Oral fluid analysis: General Questions
What is saliva and why is it used for drug testing?
Oral fluid (OF) is a mixture of materials, including saliva excreted from three main pairs of glands around the mouth, fluid filtered from the bloodstream through the gums and remnants of products eaten. Thanks to the close relationship of oral fluid and blood, testing OF has many of the benefits of blood testing such as similar detection times and indication for potential impairment without the invasiveness or risk of drawing blood.
What is the relationship between urine and oral fluid?
DOA testing in both urine and oral fluid is based on immunoassay, a long proven testing methodology [DRUID Workpackage 3.2.2 by SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, the Netherlands]. However oral fluid testing detects parent drug compounds recently consumed, while urine testing can only detect the drug metabolites excreted from past use. Therefore, a positive oral fluid result can indicate potential impairment, while a urine result is only an indicator of consumption at an earlier point in time.
How high is the risk of infection during oral fluid analysis?
The collection device of the Dräger DrugTest® 5000 is designed as an integral part of the test cassette, itself preventing any contact between the operator and oral fluid sample. Appropriate hygiene precautions should be taken whenever dealing with the bodily fluids of other people, however as OSHA does not consider collection a dental process, oral fluid is not classified as a biohazard.
Can the test subject manipulate the test result or adulterate the sample?
No. Sampling with the Dräger DrugTest® 5000 Test Cartridge allows observation of the entire sample collection process. The analysis and result interpretation are then completed entirely by the analyzer, removing any human interaction.
Can the results be used in court?
Studies have shown that the results of the Dräger DrugTest® 5000 are very accurate, however as with any immunoassay technology, any positive results should be confirmed by a second method. This confirmation assay would be the result used as evidence in court.*
Which method of analysis is most suitable for confirmation analysis?
The usual reference method is chromatography with coupled mass spectrometry (GC-MS, LC-MS).
How quickly can drug consumption be detected by oral fluid analysis?
The individual drugs and/or their metabolites can be detected in the saliva just minutes after oral ingestion.*
How long after consumption can the individual drugs be detected in saliva?
The time window during which drugs can be detected in oral fluid depends on various factors; e.g. the quantity consumed, the method of administration, the frequency of consumption, the time of day the drug consumption took place and a person’s individual metabolism. Various studies have shown that amphetamines/methamphetamines remain in the saliva in sufficient quantities for detection for up to 50 hours; cocaine can be detected for up to 12-36 hours, opiates for up to 24 hours and cannabinoids for up to 12 hours.*
*For references and additional information please contact Draeger Safety Diagnostics, Inc. or view the DrugTest Resources Page