The nature and the occurrence of birefringent material in different organs in fatal drug addiction.
Forensic Sci Int. 1987 May-Jun;34(1-2):53-62. PMID: 3036675
Insoluble birefringent tablet filler materials commonly found in tablets used in solution by drug addicts as intravenous injections were investigated microscopically. The following filler materials were investigated: talc, potato- and maize-starch, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate and siliciumoxid. The morphological characteristics of the different materials are described. Tissue sections (lung, liver, spleen, heart, bone-marrow, kidney, lymph-nodes and endocrine glands) from 33 consecutive fatality cases of intravenous drug addicts autopsied at the University Institute of Forensic Medicine in Copenhagen were studied with special reference to the occurrence and nature of birefringent material. Birefringent material was most often demonstrated in lung tissue (94%), followed by spleen (76%), liver (55%), lymph-nodes (portal: 39%) and bone-marrow (24%). The material was always localized intracellularly. Granulomatous reaction was only seen in the lungs. Except for one case, talc was the only foreign material seen in other organs than the lungs, undoubtedly due to its smaller size. The presence of insoluble foreign material in lung tissue of drug addicts indicates a habit of intravenous administration and the amount of the material indicates whether the addict usually injects tablets or only does so occasionally. The presence of birefringent material in the organs have only rarely any obvious clinical implications.