Correlation of the incidence of cocaine and cocaethylene in hair and postmortem biologic samples

A C Gruszecki, C A Robinson, J H Embry, G G Davis
American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 2000, 21 (2): 166-71
Hair samples are useful as a matrix for drug testing because drugs can be detected in hair for longer periods than in blood or urine. The authors report a prospective comparison of the detection of cocaine and cocaethylene in routine postmortem biologic specimens to the detection of cocaine and cocaethylene in hair. The authors collected hair samples from various areas of the head in 53 autopsy cases, prepared them, and analyzed them by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) for cocaine and cocaethylene. The authors compared the results of hair analysis with the results of toxicologic analysis performed on routine postmortem samples by enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique and GC/MS. Cocaine was found in either biologic fluids or in hair in 16 of 53 samples tested. Nine samples were positive for cocaine in both biologic fluids and hair. Five samples contained cocaine only in biologic fluids, and two contained cocaine only in hair. Cocaethylene was present in two cases. Drug screening of hair provides additional information in some autopsy cases, but the authors have not made hair analysis a routine practice. It may prove useful to save hair samples in all cases for later analysis if warranted by additional history or autopsy findings.

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