Volume 46, Issue 1 (January 2001)
Intratracheal Gas Analysis for Volatile Substances by Gas chromatography/Mass Spectrometry—Application to Forensic Autopsies
Intratracheal gas analysis was carried out by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) in 20 burned body cases (13 males and 7 females). Volatile aromatic and alihatic hydrocarbons were detected by GC/MS using a GS-Q column with the intratracheal gas as well as the blood in 19 cases. The characteristic patterns of mass chromatograms for gasoline, kerosene (gas oil), and liquid petroleum gas could be differentiated from each other using the intratracheal gas. The burned body in one case showed no presence of volatile substances in the intratracheal gas, nor intratracheal soot, although high concentrations (1 μg/g and more) of volatile substances were detected on the clothes. The victim also had normal CO-Hb concentrations (0.1 to 0.2%) in the heart blood. The results of intratracheal gas analysis were consistent with signs of the vital reaction. In conclusion, intratracheal gas analysis provides a supportive method for diagnosing the cause of death in burned bodies, and yields for at least 48 hours valuable information on volatile hydrocarbons (being detected in deliberate or accidental fire cases) to which the body had been exposed just before death.