Detection of drugs of abuse in nails
Engelhart DA; Lavins ES; Sutheimer CA
Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office,
Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.
J Anal Toxicol, 1998 Jul-Aug, 22:4, 314-8


Postmortem toenail samples were used for the detection of cocaine (COC), benzoylecgonine (BZE), norcocaine (NCOC), cocaethylene (CE), morphine (MOR), 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM), codeine (COD), and hydrocodone (HDC). After the toenail clippings were washed with methanol, they were solubilized in 0.1 M potassium phosphate (pH 5.0). The drugs of interest, along with internal standards, were isolated by solid-phase extraction followed by derivatization with N-methyl-N-trimethylsilyl-trifluoroacetamide. The derivatized products were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry operated in the selective ion monitoring (SIM) mode. The limit of quantitation for all analytes was 0.3 ng on column. The quantities of drugs found in toenails of each of 46 decedents were compared with those of their corresponding postmortem fluids. The toenails of the 46 decedents were tested for COC, BZE, NCOC, and CE, and 34 of the collected samples were also tested for opiates. COC and BZE concentrations ranged from 0.20 to 140.17 (n = 20) and 0.30 to 315.44 ng/mg (n = 21), respectively. NCOC concentrations of 6.78 and 0.66 ng/mg and CE concentrations of 2.60 and 0.73 ng/mg were detected in two of the decedents' toenails. MOR and 6-MAM were detected in three sets of toenails at average concentrations of 0.37 and 0.89 ng/mg, respectively. COD was detected in two sets of specimens at concentrations of 3.07 and 1.02 ng/mg. HDC (0.62 ng/mg) was found in only one set of specimens.

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