Can opiates in human urine be quantitated both quickly and accurately using high resolution mass spectrometry? With Orbitrap HR/AM mass spectrometry, precision doesn’t need to be sacrificed for speed.

Overview: Forensic toxicologists perform analysis of human urine to search for the presence of illegal and controlled substances, including opiates such as morphine or oxycodone. These analyses can play a part in law enforcement decisions; thus it’s critical that test results be highly precise. With a large number of samples to analyze, it’s also important for the process to be speedy and efficient.

Method: Using a Thermo Scientific™ Q Exactive™ Focus Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap™ Mass Spectrometer, six opiates in human urine samples are quantified down to low ng/mL levels. Opiates include morphine, codeine, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The method precision and accuracy were evaluated by running a calibration curve and quintuplicate replicates of quality controls on three different days.

Table 1. Inter-assay precision and bias.

  Codeine Hydrocodone Hydromorphone Morphine Oxycodone Oxymorphone
5ng/mL % RSD 3.82 3.67 3.89 7.54 2.78 3.43
% Bias -4.11 7.20 5.28 0.18 -6.19 -2.04
10ng/mL % RSD 4.13 6.06 2.79 4.35 3.35 2.78
% Bias -7.00 -3.47 -0.20 -6.15 -5.24 -3.60
100ng/mL % RSD 3.00 6.13 2.03 2.28 2.58 1.62
% Bias 7.43 5.51 -0.16 0.98 5.34 0.26
1000ng/mL % RSD 3.63 4.21 1.35 2.52 1.99 2.29
% Bias 6.07 3.64 3.53 4.67 5.44 2.86

Results: The Q Exactive Focus MS accurately quantitated all six opiates tested. The average recovery across 58 donor urine samples obtained from a collaborator laboratory ranged from 69% to 81% for the six internal standards evaluated. The Q Exactive Focus MS is a versatile instrument capable of both screening large panels and quantitative confirmation of specific panels.

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