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Morphine Concentrations in Skeletal Muscle

Hargrove, Veronica M. PhD, FTS-ABFT; Molina, D. Kimberley MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 73–75
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000046
Original Articles

Skeletal muscle constitutes a large percentage of the total body volume, making it a potentially widely available specimen for drug quantitation when blood is not available for toxicological testing. Morphine is a commonly encountered opiate in postmortem toxicology known to have stable blood concentrations in peripheral vessels. Morphine concentrations were measured in both femoral blood and skeletal muscle to assess the stability and predictability of skeletal muscle concentrations as compared with femoral concentrations. Analysis showed skeletal muscle was a sensitive matrix for the detection of morphine; however, there is significant disparity between the skeletal muscle and blood concentrations with a lack of predictability. The authors conclude that thigh skeletal muscle may be used for qualitative identification of morphine; however, interpretation of quantitative results should not be made as there does not seem to be a clear correlation between femoral blood and skeletal muscle concentrations for morphine.

From the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, San Antonio, TX.

Manuscript received May 16, 2013; accepted June 26, 2013.

Reprints: Veronica M. Hargrove, MS, FTS-ABFT, Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, 7337 Louis Pasteur Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229. E-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.