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Liquid Chromatography / Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) offers today’s best, and accurate urine testing lab results. It combines the advantages of two complementary techniques; Liquid Chromatography and Tandem Mass Spectrometry techniques. High-performance liquid chromatography fractionates the sample to individual analytes while tandem mass spectrometry quantities the analytes.

The fractionating phase is a critical factor to the method’s excellent analytical specificity. Beyond the regulatory necessity, doctors improve patient care by analyzing urinary drug concentrations. Close monitoring of urinary drug concentrations allows regulation of dosing regiments to show the varying metabolic rates on the particular patient, thus improving and personalizing care.

Advantages of LC-MS/MS technology

LC-MS/MS drug testing technology has the highest;

  • Selectivity
  • Sensitivity
  • Accuracy
  • Precision

Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry offers an alternative drug testing approach that reduces off-line sample preparation needed in GC/MS because moderately nonvolatile compounds can be scrutinized.

With the right equipment, acceptable LC separations can be attained for the polar analytes such as alcohols, amines, and carboxylic acids. This characteristic ability to analyze a variety of compounds in a liquid phase renders LC an attractive laboratory method.

Choosing method for drug testing

There are four key factors to check when choosing method for drug testing:

  • Selectivity – The capability to tell between similar drugs. Similarities in the various drug’s chemical structure can cause false positives if you employ a drug testing method that has little selectivity.
  • Sensitivity – Is the gauge of the lowest drug concentration that can be precisely identified using the test.  The ideal testing technique can detect very low and very high drug concentrations. Low sensitivity causes false negative results. The least drug concentration that can be accurately determined is known as the cut-off.
  • Accuracy – A measure of the closeness of the test results to the real value. The accuracy of a drug testing technique is determined by the method of sampling, sample works up, analysis method, and data processing method.
  • Robustness and precision – The capacity of the testing technique to give reproducible results. The precision aspect is important in an extremely variable sample such as urine.

Testing procedure

Liquid Chromatography

Analytes flow through the carbon-based material (C18) packed steel tube. Compounds are separated in the Colum (a filter). The column has an 18 carbon chain that has a high affinity for drugs being tested and their metabolites, ensnaring them in the column.

The drug compounds are sequentially washed away from the filter as the organic solvent increases.

Figure (a) Different drug classes order

Mass Spectrometry

This aspect of testing uses three phases of separation, each occurring in a quadrupole (Q1, Q2, and Q3).

  • The drug compounds are filtered in the Q1 depending on their intact molecular mass, which is a chemical formula derived the number.
  • In Q2, the drug compounds are fragmented by using a cloud of gas that strikes the compounds and makes it break apart.
  • In Q3, the compounds’ fragments are analyzed based on their molecular weight. For all the compounds, we scrutinize two fragments that are unique to the particular drug.

The above process, triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, is known as the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM). The process reduces the likelihood of false positives occurrence to almost zero because each drug has its molecular mass (parent ion), reaction time and fragment mass (daughter ion). Further, the process of using filters eliminates the effect of complex sample components that cause inaccuracy in an immunoassay.

Figure (b) Multiple Reaction Monitoring

At Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), we offer best LC-MS/MS urine testing lab results in our complex reference laboratory. To get the most accurate and timely urine testing lab results, call 1-877-335-2455.

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