Unacceptably high site variability in postmortem blood alcohol analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • Blood alcohol concentration is a frequently requested test in forensic pathology. The variability of this value was studied by measuring the blood alcohol concentration from six sites in nine subjects at necropsy in whom alcohol was the implicated cause of death. There were small consistent differences in the blood alcohol concentrations between the sites in the nine subjects (p < 0.04). Calculation of the mean blood:vitreous humour alcohol concentration ratio (B:V ratio) showed that vitreous humour alcohol concentration most closely reflected the concentration at the femoral vein (B:V ratio = 0.94, r = 0.98), which is considered the optimal site for blood alcohol measurement. The correlation of left heart blood with femoral blood was lower compared with the other sites. There is a potential for an unacceptably large variation in the postmortem measurement of blood alcohol within each subject.

publication date

  • March 1, 1998