Role of LC-MS/MS in hair testing for the determination of common drugs of abuse and other psychoactive drugs

Bioanalysis. 2013 Aug;5(15):1919-38. doi: 10.4155/bio.13.132.


Hair testing has been used in toxicological investigations for the last two decades, but only recently a remarkable extension of hair analysis to a variety of application fields was observed, besides drug abuse recognition. The dramatic improvements of LC-MS/MS instrumentation make the detection of tiny amounts of almost whatever drug in hair possible, even after single-dose intake. The progresses observed during the last 5 years in the detection of psychoactive substances in hair are reviewed herein. The literature is partitioned according to the target compounds, namely traditional drugs of abuse, new psychoactive substances and pharmaceutical psychoactive substances. The LC-MS/MS methods presented are addressed to determine a single class of drugs, with the primary aim of accurate quantitation, or to perform multiclass analysis, for rapid and effective screening protocols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / instrumentation
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / analysis*
  • Limit of Detection
  • Psychotropic Drugs / analysis*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / instrumentation
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Psychotropic Drugs