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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2002 September;122(3): 145-9
The search for narcotic substances in histology specimens
Cingolani M., Froldi R.
The problems connected with the use of specimens of a histological nature for the purpose of carrying out toxicological investigations on narcotic substances are examined. Following a review of the by no means voluminous literature on the question, it is observed that the heterogeneity of the data contained in the literature does not permit an unequivocal judgement on the stability of the particular compounds in these substrata. They then report the results of personal experiments concerning morphine which showed the good stability of this component in formalin-fixed tissues and in the formalin solutions that are employed for the process. An extractive capacity of these solutions which led to the substance being prevalently distributed in them, compared to the tissues, was observed.The same experiments, on the contrary, also demonstrated the impossibility of detecting morphine in the tissues included. Finally, the authors consider that the indications contained in the literature and the results of personal experiments represent a good reason for undertaking further study of experimental applications concerning the utilisation for toxicological purposes of histological preparations, by broadening the horizon towards other narcotic substances (cocaine and cannabis derivatives) and turning attention to other non-narcotic substances of toxicological interest, with production of comparable stability data permitting an adequate toxicological-forensic interpretation even when derived from analyses carried out on these particular matrices.