JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Use of the Randox Evidence Investigator immunoassay system for near-body drug screening during post-mortem examination in 261 forensic cases.

BACKGROUND: This paper describes the performance of four Randox drug arrays, designed for whole blood, for the near-body analysis of drugs in a range of post-mortem body specimens.

METHODS: Liver, psoas muscle, femoral blood, vitreous humor and urine from 261 post-mortem cases were screened in the mortuary and results were obtained within the time taken to complete a post-mortem. Specimens were screened for the presence of amfetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, benzoylecgonine, buprenorphine, cannabinoids, dextropropoxyphene, fentanyl, ketamine, lysergide, methadone, metamfetamine, methaqualone, 3,4-methylenedioxymetamfetamine, opioids, paracetamol, phencyclidine, salicylate, salicylic acid, zaleplon, zopiclone and zolpidem using the DOA I, DOA I+, DOA II and Custom arrays.

RESULTS: Liver and muscle specimens were obtained from each of the 261 post-mortem cases; femoral blood, vitreous humor and urine were available in 98%, 92% and 72% of the cases, respectively. As such, the equivalent of 12,978 individual drug-specific, or drug-group, immunoassay tests were undertaken. Overall >98% of the 12,978 screening tests undertaken agreed with laboratory confirmatory tests performed on femoral blood.

CONCLUSIONS: There is growing interest in the development of non-invasive procedures for determining the cause of death using MRI and CT scanning however these procedures are, in most cases, unable to determine whether death may have been associated with drug use. The Randox arrays can provide qualitative and semi-quantitative results in a mortuary environment enabling pathologists to decide whether to remove specimens from the body and submit them for laboratory analysis. Analysis can be undertaken on a range of autopsy specimens which is particularly useful when conventional specimens such as blood are unavailable.

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