International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 693–709 | Cite as

Systematic review of the toxicological and radiological features of body packing

  • Simone Cappelletti
  • Daria Piacentino
  • Gabriele Sani
  • Edoardo Bottoni
  • Paola Antonella Fiore
  • Mariarosaria Aromatario
  • Costantino Ciallella
Review

Abstract

Body packing is the term used for the intracorporeal concealment of illicit drugs, mainly cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and cannabinoids. These drugs are produced in the form of packages and are swallowed or placed in various anatomical cavities and body orifices. Basing on these two ways of transportation a distinction between body stuffers and body pushers can be made, with the former described as drug users or street dealers who usually carry small amounts of drugs and the latter as professional drug couriers who carry greater amounts of drugs. A review of the literature regarding body packing is presented, with the aim to highlight the toxicological and radiological features related to this illegal practice. Raising awareness about the encountered mean body levels of the drugs and the typical imaging signs of the incorporated packages could be useful for clinicians and forensic pathologists to (a) identify possible unrecognized cases of body packing and (b) prevent the serious health consequences and deaths frequently occurring after the packages’ leakage or rupture or the packages’ mass obstructing the gastrointestinal lumen.

Keywords

Body packing Toxicology Radiology Imaging Health consequences Death 

Supplementary material

414_2015_1310_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 32.9 kb)
414_2015_1310_MOESM2_ESM.docx (53 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Cappelletti
    • 1
  • Daria Piacentino
    • 2
  • Gabriele Sani
    • 2
  • Edoardo Bottoni
    • 1
  • Paola Antonella Fiore
    • 1
  • Mariarosaria Aromatario
    • 1
  • Costantino Ciallella
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedic Sciences“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.NESMOS (Neuroscience, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs) Department, School of Medicine and Psychology“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly

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