Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2013 Dec;11(3):158-164.

Simultaneous Screening of 177 Drugs of Abuse in Urine Using Ultra-performance Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry in Drug-intoxicated Patients

  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine and Genetics, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Bucheon, Korea.


OBJECTIVE: The demand for rapid and broad clinical toxicology screening methods to identify drugs of abuse and medicinal drugs is increasing steadily. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-TMS) is increasingly used to screen for drugs of abuse and to identify a wide range of drugs and metabolites in clinical samples. We revised a high-throughput and rapid ultra-performance (UP) LC-TMS method for simultaneous screening of 177 of the most prevalent medicinal drugs and drugs of abuse in urine and validated the quality of performance using system suitability mixture (SSM) and quality control (QC) materials.
We assessed the limits of detection (LOD) using high concentrations of the test substances. The method was applied to 473 urine samples obtained from patients intoxicated with drugs who visited the emergency center.
The retention time, peak area, and total ion chromatogram of the SSM and QC materials were within the acceptance criteria of the pre-defined acceptance interval. The LODs were <62 ng/ml for 12 commonly encountered drugs. In total, 418 patients (88.4%) tested positive for one or more medicinal drugs or drugs of abuse. Twenty-eight drugs were detected over ten times; the most commonly detected were zolpidem, ephedrine, paracetamol, and chlorpheniramine.
The UPLC-TMS method provided excellent performance for simultaneous screening of a large number of the drugs of abuse in urine samples. We conclude that this robust technique is useful for screening for a large number of drugs and for rapid screening of the most commonly encountered substances in emergency cases.


Drugs of abuse; Liquid chromatography; Tandem mass spectrometry; Toxicology
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