SOFT - TIAFT 1998 Poster Session 3 Thursday October 8, 1998

Ashraf Mozayani, Patricia Small and Lynn De Cuir

Harris County Medical Examiner, Joseph A. Jachimczyk Forensic Center, 1885 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, TX 77054-2098, USA

An eighteen year-old male arrived at the hospital unresponsive and in respiratory failure. He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. At autopsy, no anatomic cause of death was identified. Toxicology tests for alcohol, comprehensive drug screen and gamma hydroxybutyric was requested on the admission and postmortem specimens. GHB was converted into the lactone form, gamma butylrolactone (GBL) by the addition of 10% trichloroacetic acid and heat. GBL was then extracted with chloroform and injected into a gas chromatography mass spectrometer. Delta-valerolactone was used as the internal standard. The results were as follows:

Alcohol GHB Cocaine Cocaethylene Benzoylecgonine
Postmortem Blood 0.16 g/dL 309.4 mg/L 0.04 mg/L 0.02 mg/L 0.03 mg/L
Antemortem Blood - - 300.3 mg/L - -
Vitreous Humor 0.20 g/dL - - - -
Urine 0.22 g/dL - - - -

The lack of a substantial difference in the concentration of GHB between the postmortem and antemortem blood suggests no GHB production from postmortem decomposition in this case.

The cause of death was ruled as an overdose due to combination effect of GHB, cocaine and alcohol. The manner of death was accident.

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