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Enhanced Forensic Mass Spectrometry Methods

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2008
28 pages
This report describes the development of a simple and rapid mass spectrometric method for confirming the identity of fentanyl and norfentanyl in forensic urine samples.
Although this method is not as sensitive for quantitative purposes as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS), chromatography-free mass spectrometry quickly and accurately identified and quantified fentanyl and norfentanyl in urine. Total analysis time for the six case samples was less than 1 hour. The specificity of MS/MS transitions suggests that this method can be expanded to the analysis of a broad range of drugs of abuse in urine that show suitable mass spectra fragmentation patterns. This method is useful in detecting very small amounts of fentanyl in urine that arise from either therapeutic or illicit use. The method for fentanyl was modified and extended to the confirmation of multiple drugs in whole blood. By using a direct injection multistage (MS/MS and MS3) mass spectrometric method, the presence of all but 1 of the 40 drugs and metabolites that were previously identified and quantified in blood by GC-MS or LC-MS analytical methods was confirmed. There are disadvantages to simplifying the method by excluding separation steps. More accurate and precise measurements and more confident structure identification would require high resolution mass spectrometers that can provide exact mass information. Recommendations for future research include a more complete validation of the method, including interlaboratory evaluation, determination of the robustness of the method, and evaluation of potential changes in instrument maintenance schedules that result from contamination of the mass spectrometer inlet from the direction injection technique. Future research should also evaluate the application of higher resolution mass spectrometers in forensic science. 4 tables, 1 figure and 14 references

Date Published: December 1, 2008