Author(s): De Martinis B
AIMS: The determination of postmortem ethanol is one of the most frequently requested analyses in forensic toxicology and of extreme importance, especially when the concentration is found to be above the legal level for intoxication at one sampling site and below that level at another sampling site. Because of the unavailability of blood samples for toxicological analysis or even contaminated samples, there is an enormous effort to find alternative sampling sites, such as vitreous humor for ethanol analysis. The main purpose of this study was to establish correlations between urine and blood alcohol concentrations collected from different sites and vitreous humor. METHODS: Ethanol concentrations were determined in specimens of heart, subclavian and femoral blood, urine and vitreous humor, collected from 21 cadavers who were victims of different causes of death. Determinations of ethanol were performed in duplicate using capillary gas chromatography/flame ionization detector and headspace techniques. RESULTS: Statistical analysis of the results indicated that there were no significant differences among urine and blood samples collected from different sites compared to vitreous humor. Regarding vitreous humor ethanol concentration, Pearson's correlation coefficient was 0.97 for femoral blood and urine, 0.96 for heart blood and 0.94 for subclavian blood. The results demonstrated that all the fluids tested against vitreous humor significantly correlated with P (associated probability for the used correlation tests) <0.05. CONCLUSIONS: Vitreous humor can be considered as an alternative sample to urine and blood specimens.