Volume 42, Issue 6 (November 1997)
Tissue Distribution of Ketamine in a Mixed Drug Fatality
While reports of ketamine abuse are increasing, reports of ketamine deaths and tissue concentrations associated with fatalities are rare. We report here a case of a mixed drug fatality involving ketamine and ethanol. Ketamine analysis was carried out by gas chromatography with a nitrogen-phosphorus detector (NPD). We found the following tissue concentrations: blood 1.8 mg/L; urine 2.0 mg/L; brain 4.3 mg/kg; spleen 6.1 mg/kg; liver 4.9 mg/kg, and kidney 3.6 mg/kg. The blood ethanol concentration was 170 mg/dL. Because an empty nalbuphine ampule was found in the possession of the deceased, the blood was assayed for this opioid compound using a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) method. None was detected at a limit of detection of 0.02 mg/L.