Blood Cyanide Determination in Two Cases of Fatal Intoxication: Comparison Between Headspace Gas Chromatography and a Spectrophotometric Method*


  • *

    Presented at the 11th Meeting on Recent Developments in Pharmaceutical Analysis, Rimini, Italy, September 25–28, 2005.


Abstract:  Blood samples of two cases were analyzed preliminarily by a classical spectrophotometric method (VIS) and by an automated headspace gas chromatographic method with nitrogen-phosphorus detector (HS-GC/NPD). In the former, hydrogen cyanide (HCN) was quantitatively determined by measuring the absorbance of chromophores forming as a result of interaction with chloramine T. In the automated HS-GC/NPD method, blood was placed in a headspace vial, internal standard (acetonitrile) and acetic acid were then added. This resulted in cyanide being liberated as HCN. The spectrophotometric (VIS) and HS-GC/NPD methods were validated on postmortem blood samples fortified with potassium cyanide in the ranges 0.5–10 and 0.05–5 μg/mL, respectively. Detection limits were 0.2 μg/mL for VIS and 0.05 μg/mL for HS-GC/NPD. This work shows that results obtained by means of the two procedures were insignificantly different and that they compared favorably. They are suitable for rapid diagnosis of cyanide in postmortem cases.