Info

(See "Triglycerides and lipoproteins.")

Potassium

Vitreous

Values increase steadily after death; has been used to determine postmortem interval. (See also "Hypoxanthine.")

Proteins

Serum

Electrophoretic patterns remain stable.

Ribonucleic acid (RNA)

Tissues (unspecified)

Less stable than DNA (see above) but mRNA may be stable for several hours after death.

Sodium

Serum and vitreous

Serum sodium values decrease after death; vitreous sodium is stable.

Triglycerides and lipoproteins

Serum

Erratic changes after death.

Urea nitrogen

Serum and vitreous

Values stable after death.

aData from refs. (1) and (2). Numerous other substances (e.g., ammonia, amino acids, creatine, magnesium, phosphates, sulfates, trace elements, uric acid, xanthine) have been studied in various body fluids but are not listed here because tests in the postmortem setting are unreliable or are rarely of practical importance. b In alphabetical order.

aData from refs. (1) and (2). Numerous other substances (e.g., ammonia, amino acids, creatine, magnesium, phosphates, sulfates, trace elements, uric acid, xanthine) have been studied in various body fluids but are not listed here because tests in the postmortem setting are unreliable or are rarely of practical importance. b In alphabetical order.

the gross autopsy is equivocal for the diagnosis of jaundice. If no postmortem chemical testing is contemplated, routinely drawn vitreous specimens can be sent to the toxicologist, who will use them for volatiles analysis and drug screening. The technique of drug screening is described in Chapter 2. Depending on the analytical technique used, centrifugation of the vitreous may be required to obtain a supernatant sample, to avoid clogging the analytical instruments.

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