Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 35–45

The influence of putrefaction and sample storage on post-mortem toxicology results


DOI: 10.1007/s12024-009-9130-8

Cite this article as:
Butzbach, D.M. Forensic Sci Med Pathol (2010) 6: 35. doi:10.1007/s12024-009-9130-8


There are numerous biochemical and biological processes that occur after death that may have a significant influence on post-mortem drug concentrations. These processes may render the quantification of particular drugs unreliable, or even result in drugs being undetectable in some instances, despite the use of several methods. Problems may occur with changes in the drug concentration via bacterial degradation, residual tissue enzymatic activity, or via post-mortem redistribution from tissues of a higher to a lower concentration. Many analytical techniques can suffer from interferences due to co-extracted putrefactive compounds that mask or alter the way a drug is detected, depending on the analytical technique utilised. The following paper reviews problems associated with post-mortem drug concentration changes, and the significance of microbial influences during the post-mortem interval and sample storage.


Putrefaction Toxicology Drug stability Degradation Bacteria 

Copyright information

© Humana Press 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Physics and Earth SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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