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Time-Dependent Postmortem Redistribution of Opioids in Blood and Alternative Matrices


Brockbals, Lana; Staeheli, Sandra N; Gascho, Dominic; Ebert, Lars C; Kraemer, Thomas; Steuer, Andrea E (2018). Time-Dependent Postmortem Redistribution of Opioids in Blood and Alternative Matrices. Journal of analytical toxicology, 42(6):365-374.

Abstract

Forensic postmortem case interpretation can be challenging, in particular due to postmortem redistribution (PMR) phenomena. Recent studies have shown that computed tomography (CT)-guided collection of biopsy samples using a robotic arm (virtobot) provides a valuable tool for systematic studies on time-dependent PMR. Utilizing this strategy, several cases involving opioid use such as methadone, fentanyl, tramadol, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone were evaluated for time-dependent concentration changes and potential redistribution mechanisms. Upon admission to the institute (t1), blood (femoral and right ventricle heart blood) and tissue biopsy samples (lung, kidney, liver, spleen, thigh muscle and adipose tissue) were collected utilizing CT-guided biopsy. Approximately 24 h later (t2; mean 28 ± 15 h), during the autopsy, samples from the same body regions were collected manually and in addition brain tissue, gastric content, urine and left ventricle heart blood. Analysis was conducted with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Significant time-dependent methadone concentration increases in femoral blood (pB) indicate the occurrence of PMR, however, ultimately not relevant for forensic interpretation. The main metabolite of methadone, 2-ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP), showed a less significant trend for PMR. Redistribution by passive diffusion along the muscle-to-pB concentration gradient seems likely for methadone, but not for EDDP. Results for fentanyl suggest extensive PMR. Other opioids such as tramadol, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone showed no consistent trend for significant PMR. Overall, CT-guided biopsy sampling proved to be a valuable tool for the investigation of PMR mechanisms.

Abstract

Forensic postmortem case interpretation can be challenging, in particular due to postmortem redistribution (PMR) phenomena. Recent studies have shown that computed tomography (CT)-guided collection of biopsy samples using a robotic arm (virtobot) provides a valuable tool for systematic studies on time-dependent PMR. Utilizing this strategy, several cases involving opioid use such as methadone, fentanyl, tramadol, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone were evaluated for time-dependent concentration changes and potential redistribution mechanisms. Upon admission to the institute (t1), blood (femoral and right ventricle heart blood) and tissue biopsy samples (lung, kidney, liver, spleen, thigh muscle and adipose tissue) were collected utilizing CT-guided biopsy. Approximately 24 h later (t2; mean 28 ± 15 h), during the autopsy, samples from the same body regions were collected manually and in addition brain tissue, gastric content, urine and left ventricle heart blood. Analysis was conducted with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Significant time-dependent methadone concentration increases in femoral blood (pB) indicate the occurrence of PMR, however, ultimately not relevant for forensic interpretation. The main metabolite of methadone, 2-ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP), showed a less significant trend for PMR. Redistribution by passive diffusion along the muscle-to-pB concentration gradient seems likely for methadone, but not for EDDP. Results for fentanyl suggest extensive PMR. Other opioids such as tramadol, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone showed no consistent trend for significant PMR. Overall, CT-guided biopsy sampling proved to be a valuable tool for the investigation of PMR mechanisms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Toxicology, Analytical Chemistry, Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis, Chemical Health and Safety, Environmental Chemistry
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:26 Apr 2018 13:23
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 15:35
Publisher:Preston Publications
ISSN:0146-4760
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/bky017
PubMed ID:29579266
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID310030_165875
  • : Project TitleSystematic Studies on Postmortem Toxicology

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