SOFT - TIAFT 1998 Scientific Session 7 Friday October 9, 1998
Click Picture Marc A. LeBeau and Madeline A. Montgomery

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chemistry Unit, Washington, D.C. 20535, USA

Succinylcholine (SC) is a depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent typically used as an adjunct to surgical anesthesia. SC poisoning presents the forensic toxicologist with the difficult task of trying to identify its presence in biofluids and tissues. Previous analytical techniques for analyzing SC have relied on the formation of an ion-pair complex with bromothymol blue prior to thin-layer chromatographic analysis and/or gas chromatographic procedures.

A rapid and sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) procedure has been developed for the direct detection and identification of SC in urine specimens. This qualitative procedure alleviates the time-consuming preparative techniques that older procedures have employed, as well as provides for a mass spectral identification of the poisoning agent.

The procedure's mobile phase consisted of methanol:water:methanesulfonic acid (20:80:0.01) through a Hamilton PRP-1 analytical column. The mass spectrometer was optimized using a solution of SC and was operated in the daughters of 385 m/z mode with argon as the collision gas. Ionization was through an atmospheric pressure ionization source with an electrospray interface. Resulting daughter spectra allowed for the unequivocal identification of succinylcholine. The detection limit of SC was under 1 mg/L. The method was validated using SC-spiked urine specimens, as well as specimens collected from surgery patients who had received SC during anesthesia.

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