Forensic Toxicology Moving Towards Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectometry (LCMS)

For many years, forensic toxicology labs have been using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) to conduct broad toxicological screening as well as routine confirmation for presumed positives in chemistry-based testing. GCMS has the capability to provide general unknown analysis -an extensive screen of over 4,000 substances- utilizing many varying sample types including oral fluid, urine, and blood.

LCMS methods are best used in dedicated multi target screening, where specific known drug group(s) are to be tested. However, with continually expanding drug and substance libraries – in some cases as large as 4000 substances – LCMS is becoming more useful for general unknown analysis.

LCMS methods not only produce information from the same sample types as GCMS but vastly reduce sample preparation time. These systems do not require selective sample prep steps such as hydrolysis, extraction, and derivatization. Post-run time is also greatly reduced. As a result of rapid turnaround time and high sensitivity, labs increasingly are converting to LCMS testing. GCMS methods are still beneficial in cases of intoxication where the drug group is unknown and in post-mortems where the matrix is decomposed.

Forensic toxicology labs benefit from the improved efficiency of LCMS systems. Constant library updates are integral to the success of LCMS services and results provided.

For further information, access author Rohan Thakur’s original article from Lab Manager at