Journal of chromatography. B, Biomedical sciences and applications

Gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric quantitation of dextropropoxyphene and norpropoxyphene in hair and whole blood after automated on-line solid-phase extraction. Application in twelve fatalities.

PMID 9653927


After conversion of norpropoxyphene (NP) to its corresponding amide, dextropropoxyphene (DP) and NP are extracted from 1 ml of blood or 50 mg of powdered hair, on C18 cartridges and eluted using methanol containing 0.5% acetic acid. Automated extraction is conducted on-line with automated device, starting from buffered and centrifuged sample. After extraction, the dried residue is reconstituted with 40 microl of methanol, and then injected in a gas chromatograph at 250 degrees C. Quantitation is carried out by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in the selected-ion monitoring mode, lidocaine being the internal standard. The method gave relative standard deviations lower than 6.2% in whole blood, and 6.0% in hair for the entire range of calibration from 0.5 to 10 microg/ml in blood and from 1 to 20 ng/mg in hair of both compounds. Limits of detection in blood and hair for DP are, respectively, 0.07 microg/ml and 0.05 ng/mg, whereas the respective limits of detection in whole blood and hair for NP are 0.09 microg/ml and 0.04 ng/mg. The present method was used for one year in our laboratory. Postmortem concentrations of DP in blood ranged from 1.6 to 44.0 microg/ml (mean=9.8microg/ml, n = 12) and are comparable to those found in the literature. Out of 30 hair samples from people who died from heroin overdose, 13 were positive both for DP and NP with concentrations ranging from 0.2 to 27.4 ng/mg (mean 8.7 ng/mg) for DP and 0.3 to 68.9 ng/mg (mean 24.1 ng/mg) for NP.

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