Differentiation of heroin and cocaine using dual-energy CT—an experimental study
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To evaluate if heroin and cocaine can be distinguished using dual-energy CT.
Materials and methods
Twenty samples of heroin and cocaine at different concentrations and standardized compression (SC) were scanned in dual-energy mode on a newest generation Dual Energy 64-row MDCT scanner. CT number, spectral graphs, and dual-energy index (DEI) were evaluated. Results were prospectively tested on six original samples from a body packer. Wilcoxon’s test was used for statistical evaluation.
Values are given as median and range. Under SC, the CT number of cocaine samples (−29.87 Hounsfield unit (HU) [−125.85; 16.16 HU]) was higher than the CT number of heroin samples (−184.37 HU [−199.81; −159.25 HU]; p < 0.01). Slope of spectral curves for cocaine was −2.36 HU/keV [−7.15; −0.67 HU/keV], and for heroin, 1.75 HU/keV [1.28; 2.5 HU/keV] (p < 0.01). DEI was 0.0352 [0.0081; 0.0528] for cocaine and significantly higher than for heroin samples (−0.0127 [−0.0097; −0.0159]; p < 0.001). While CT number was inconclusive, all six original packs were correctly classified after evaluation of the spectral curve and DEI. In contrast to the CT number, slope of the spectral curve and DEI were independent of concentration and compression.
The slope of the spectral curve and the DEI from dual-energy CT data can be used to distinguish heroin and cocaine in vitro; these results are independent of compression and concentration in the measured range.
KeywordsBody packing Dual-energy CT Dual-energy index Material differentiation Illicit drugs
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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