Published Online: 1 May 2002
Page Count: 2
Chief toxicologist, Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, Detroit, MI
This is the second volume of Handbook of Analytical Separations and is entitled Forensic Science. While several topics in forensic science are included, the first part of the book, Forensic toxicology, make up the bulk of this volume (597 pp.). This part of the book is divided into three sections: illicit drugs, therapeutic drugs, and other topics of toxicological relevance. A review of the analytical toxicology of many major drug classes are considered in the individual chapters that make up the first two sections of this part of the book. Chapter topics include opiate agonists, cocaine and metabolites, amphetamines, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, sedatives and hypnotics, antidepressants and antipsychotics, nonopioid analgesics, and a catch-all chapter that includes cardiac glycosides, oral antidiabetics, and muscle relaxants. Each chapter first reviews methods used to isolate drugs from biological matrices (and plant material where applicable). Included are traditional liquid-liquid and solid-phase extraction procedures as well as newer isolation techniques such as supercritical fluid extraction. Separation methods discussed in most chapters include thin layer chromatography, liquid and gas chromatography and in some cases, capillary electrophoresis. Derivatization methods, if applicable, are either presented in a distinct section of a chapter or incorporated into the discussion of detection techniques. Methods of detection are usually integrated into the discussion of each separation technique. In addition to mass spectrometric detection, I was glad to see that most authors also reviewed other detection techniques including nitrogen-phosphorus, diode-array, electron-capture, and fluorescence. Notably absent from most chapters, except the chapter on cannabinoids, was any discussion of immunoassays. This is unfortunate as important issues such as cross-reactivity to various compounds, interferences, and comparisons between different types of commercially available immunoassays are not presented to the user of this volume. Most authors considered the analysis of drugs in various matrices, although the manner in which this data were presented varied considerably. Some authors chose to include this in their discussion of isolation techniques while others chose to dedicate sections of their chapter to each type of matrix. A separate chapter on alternative matrices also occurs later in the book. The authors of the chapter on the analysis of cocaine analytes included a table that lists the analytes detected, specimen type, internal standards, column type, instrumentation details, performance characteristics, and reference. I found this to be extremely useful for method comparison and wish that each chapter would have included a table similar to this. In addition to analytical methods, many chapters also contain additional topics of forensic significance for the analytes discussed, e.g., morphine (poppy seeds), cocaine (stability), amphetamines (source differentiation), etc. In general, the chapters on illicit drugs were more thorough than the chapters on therapeutic drugs. However, many more analytes had to be considered in the latter section. The chapter on antidepressants and antipsychotics, in particular, was too brief. In addition, this chapter discussed tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, neuroleptics, and antipsychotics as a group. It would have been much more useful to have this information subdivided by drug class with greater emphasis on a review of the published methods, rather than methods used in the authors' laboratory. The chapter on sedatives and hypnotics did break down the drugs by class, but was also too brief in its review of this important group of drugs, especially the benzodiazepines. Unlike the chapters in the section on illicit drugs, the chapters on therapeutic drugs did not include other relevant issues to the analytes discussed (e.g., postmortem redistribution).
Paper ID: JFS15330J