Tissue distribution of ketamine in a mixed drug fatality

J Forensic Sci. 1997 Nov;42(6):1183-5.


While reports of ketamine abuse are increasing, reports of ketamine deaths and tissue concentrations associated with fatalities are rare. We report here a case of a mixed drug fatality involving ketamine and ethanol. Ketamine analysis was carried out by gas chromatography with a nitrogen-phosphorus detector (NPD). We found the following tissue concentrations: blood 1.8 mg/L; urine 2.0 mg/L; brain 4.3 mg/kg; spleen 6.1 mg/kg; liver 4.9 mg/kg, and kidney 3.6 mg/kg. The blood ethanol concentration was 170 mg/dL. Because an empty nalbuphine ampule was found in the possession of the deceased, the blood was assayed for this opioid compound using a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) method. None was detected at a limit of detection of 0.02 mg/L.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / poisoning
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / poisoning*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / analysis
  • Ketamine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Ketamine / poisoning
  • Male
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Ethanol
  • Ketamine