Highly sensitive gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric screening method for the determination of picogram levels of fentanyl, sufentanil and alfentanil and their major metabolites in urine of opioid exposed workers
Journal of Chromatography B, Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences vol:804 issue:2 pages:375-387
Highly sensitive and specific analytical GC-MS procedures were developed and comprehensively validated for the determination of the opioid narcotics fentanyl, sufentanil and alfentanil and their major nor-metabolites in urine of potentially exposed opioid production workers. A simple, one step extraction protocol was developed using commercially available solid phase extraction (SPE) columns to recover all analytes from urine. The secondary amine functionalities of the nor-metabolites were derivatized to form stable, pentafluorobenzamide (PFBA)-derivatives with good chromatographic properties. Using the penta-deuterated analogues as internal standards, a limit-of-detection (LOD) of 2.5 pg fentanyl/ml, 2.5 pg sufentanil/ml and 7.5 pg alfentanil/ml urine was achieved. For the opioid metabolites the LODs were found to be <50 pg/ml urine. The developed analytical procedures show excellent intra-assay accuracy, particularly considering the ultra low levels of the analytes, with relative errors generally below 10%. Overall, an excellent reproducibility was observed with coefficients of variation below 10% at all spike levels for all opioid parent compounds and their metabolites, except for low norfentanyl concentrations. Upon storage at -30 degrees C urine samples were found to be stable for at least 2 months as no significant losses of either compound were observed. The developed analytical procedures have been successfully applied in a biological monitoring survey of fentanyl exposed production workers.