Determination of benzodiazepines in pericardial fluid by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry

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Abstract

In Forensic Toxicology it is sometimes impossible to obtain a valid blood sample to perform toxicological analysis due to several factors like advanced state of decomposition, severe burns, bleed to death…. Pericardial Fluid has already been studied during the last years and has been proposed as a valid specimen for toxicological tests.

Over the years, the consumption of benzodiazepines spread among the drug dependent population and became noticeable in drug facilitated assault cases and road accidents. Improvement of the analytical methodology required for detecting the presence of these drugs in biological samples is of great importance for forensic toxicology, in order to correctly diagnose an exposure or a poisoning.

In this study, 9 benzodiazepines (diazepam, nordiazepam, midazolam, bromazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam and alprazolam) have been determined in pericardial fluid. For this purpose a solid phase extraction (SPE) was carried out using Bond Elut Certify cartridges. After the derivatization of six of the nine benzodiazepines, gas chromatography coupled to a selective mass detector was used as the technique for the separation of the analytes.

The method developed was fully validated for the 9 analytes and was applied to real samples of pericardial fluid received at the Forensic Toxicology Service of the University of Santiago de Compostela. Finally, they were compared with blood results looking for the existence of a possible correlation between both biological samples.

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