Comparison of standard operating procedures used for the detection of opioids in blood
Law, Ka Kiu Natalie
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In forensic toxicology, opioids are frequently associated with drug abuse or drug-related death cases. An optimal method for use in the identification and quantification of opioids in a complex blood matrix is of paramount importance. Along with the ability to identify and quantitate opioids, this method should be accurate, sensitive, and selective. The application of sample pre-treatment and solid-phase extraction are common to purify and concentrate the target analytes before analyzing with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of two standard operating procedures, adopted by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory Toxicology and the Biomedical Forensic Sciences– Toxicology Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, for detecting opioids in blood. A total of eight drugs were analyzed: 6-monoacetylmorphine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, norhydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. Comparison was performed using the parameters studied as part of method validation, including calibration model, bias, precision, carryover, interferences, ionization suppression/enhancement, and recovery. The results indicated that the method from Massachusetts State Police provided a better performance with between-run precision, interferences from matrix and other commonly encountered drugs, matrix effect at high concentration (250 ng/mL) and matrix recovery. Meanwhile, the method from Biomedical Forensic Sciences showed less bias, within-run precision, and matrix effect at low concentrations. Carryover and internal standard interference were comparable in both standard operating procedures. The calibration models were adjusted by altering the selection of regression model for improved quantification method performance. The volume of solvents, sample matrix, as well as time, were taken into consideration in accessing the overall performance of identification and quantitation. Both procedures were comparable yet the one from Massachusetts State Police was more beneficial in identifying the target analytes with greater sensitivity and selectivity and the one from Biomedical Forensic Sciences was more economical and efficient.