Diffusion of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Cyanide to Muscles and Blood-An Experimental Study.Toxics. 2022 Nov 18; 10(11)T
Postmortem carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) diffusion under ambient conditions was assessed in a human cadaver model. The main objective of this study was to determine whether the postmortem diffusion of HCN and CO greatly affected the determination of HCN, carboxyhemoglobin (COHb), and carboxymyoglobin (COMb). Layered samples of blood, musculocutaneous, and muscular specimens were collected from the adult cadavers and placed in the tight chambers designed for the purpose of this experiment. The specimens were treated with CO and HCN for 24 h. COHb and COMb were determined using headspace gas chromatography (GC) with an O-FID detector while the HCN values were assessed using a GC headspace with an NPD detector. It was shown that the skin substantially limited the diffusion of CO which penetrated the superficial layers of the muscle very slightly, all the while not affecting the blood level of COHb in the 4.5 cm layer of the muscle located underneath. There were no differences regarding the CO diffusion between superficially charred and thermally coagulated compared to that observed in intact integuments. In addition, the cutaneous sample deprived of the adipose layer was not shown to be a barrier to the moderate diffusion of CO into the blood layer below. HCN was found to easily diffuse from the skin to the blood vessels (vein specimens), and partial charring and thermocoagulation of the superficial muscular layer favored the diffusion of cyanides into the tissues. Similarly to CO, HCN diffusion to the blood and muscles was greatly limited by the adipose layer.