Volume 41, Issue 6 (November 1996)
Site to Site Variability of Postmortem Drug Concentrations in Liver and Lung
We evaluated postmortem diffusion of gastric drug residue into tissues and blood in eight suicidal overdoses. Analyses were performed on liver (five sites), lung (four sites), spleen, psoas muscle and kidney (left and right), blood (peripheral and torso), vitreous, pericardial fluid, bile and, urine as well as residual gastric contents. Standard anlytical techniques and instrumentation gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer and high performance liquid chromatography (GC-MS and HPLC) were used throughout. These case studies confirm previous studies of an animal and human cadaver model of gastric diffusion, in that in several instances there was drug accumulation in the left posterior margin of the liver and, to a lesser extent, the left basal lobe of the lung. Uncontrollable variables, such as postmortem interval, refrigeration before autopsy, and position of the body appear to influence significantly drug accumulation in a specific site. We suggest that autopsy sampling techniques should be standardized on blood taken from a ligated peripheral (preferably femoral or external iliac) vein, and liver from deep within the right lobe.