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Postmortem Internal Gas Reservoir Monitoring Using GC×GC-HRTOF-MS
Forensic investigations often require postmortem examination of a body. However, the collection of evidence during autopsy is often destructive, meaning that the body can no longer be examined in its original state. In order to obtain an internal image of the body, whole body postmortem computed tomography (PMCT) has proven to be a valuable non-destructive tool and is currently used in medicolegal centers. PMCT can also be used to visually locate gas reservoirs inside a cadaver, which upon analysis can provide useful information regarding very volatile compounds that are produced after death. However, the non-targeted profiling of all potential volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in these reservoirs has never been attempted. The aim of this study was to investigate the VOC profile of these reservoirs and to evaluate potential uses of such information to document circumstances surrounding death, cause of death and body taphonomy. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight high-resolution mass spectrometry (GCxGC-HRTOF-MS) was used for VOC measurements. This study demonstrated that the chemical composition of VOCs within the gas reservoirs differed between locations within a single body but also between individuals. In the future, this work could be expanded to investigate a novel, non-destructive cadaver screening approach prior to full autopsy procedures.
human decomposition, forensic chemistry, comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight high-resolution mass spectrometry (GCxGC-HRTOF-MS), volatile organic compounds, multivariate statistics
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