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Variation in postmortem liver sampling: implications for postmortem toxicology interpretation
  1. Stephen R Morley1,
  2. Jennifer Bolton2
  1. 1Department of Toxicology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Forensic Medicine Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephen R Morley, Department of Toxicology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield, S5 7AU, UK; stephen.Morley{at}


Aims To investigate the sites for postmortem liver sampling when toxicological analysis is required and to compare these to published guidelines which recommend sampling from deep within the right lobe of the liver.

Methods A questionnaire was sent to all pathologists who had supplied liver samples to the Sheffield toxicology laboratory in 2011. Practices were audited against published standards.

Results 79 liver samples had been provided from 39 pathologists. 30 pathologists replied. 15/30 pathologists had sampled from deep within the liver, but only 7/30 pathologists sampled from the deep within the right lobe.

Conclusions The published guidelines for liver sampling were either not known or not being followed by pathologists. Although this did not directly affect any of the cases audited, such a lack of knowledge of the recommended site of liver sampling may lead to incorrect interpretation if the site of liver sample is unknown by the receiving laboratory.

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