The cocaine body-packer syndrome: evaluation of a method of contrast study of the bowel

J Forensic Sci. 1990 Mar;35(2):345-55.


The questionable reliability of the conventional procedures for detection of ingested drug packages triggered us to evaluate the accuracy of a method of contrast study of the bowel in 23 nonsurgically managed cocaine body-packers. A single dose (60 mL) of a water-soluble contrast compound (amidotrizoate + meglumine) was given orally after initial clinical examination and drug detection in urine. Thereafter, roentgenograms were performed daily after spontaneous passage until obtaining two packet-free stools and negative views. Roentgenograms showed packages when performed at least 3 h after the ingestion of the contrast compound. Sensitivity and specificity of the method with respect to the detection of residual packets in the body, assessed by subsequent examination of stools, was good and did not diminish as the number of packages decreased during the time spent in ward. No side-effects were observed. We conclude that oral administration of a water-soluble contrast compound is an easily performed, efficient, and safe method for the nonsurgical management of cocaine body-packers.

MeSH terms

  • Cocaine*
  • Contrast Media*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Intestine, Large / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Radiography


  • Contrast Media
  • Cocaine