Monitoring cocaine use in substance-abuse-treatment patients by sweat and urine testing

Kenzie L. Preston, Marilyn A. Huestis, Conrad J. Wong, Annie Umbricht, Bruce A. Goldberger, Edward J. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Sweat and urine specimens were collected from 44 methadone-maintenance patients to evaluate the use of sweat testing to monitor cocaine use. Paired sweat patches that were applied and removed weekly (on Tuesdays) were compared with 3-5 consecutive urine specimens collected Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. All patches (N = 930) were extracted in 2.5 mL of solvent and analyzed by ELISA immunoassay (cutoff concentration 10 ng/mL); a subset of patches (N = 591) was also analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BZE), and ecgonine methyl ester (EME) (cutoff concentration 5 ng/mL). Urine specimens were subjected to qualitative analysis by EMIT (cutoff 300 ng/mL) and subsets were analyzed by TDx (semiquantitative, LOD 30 ng/mL) and by GC-MS for cocaine (LOD 5 ng/mL). Results were evaluated to (1) determine the relative amounts of cocaine and its metabolites in sweat; (2) assess replicability in duplicate patches; (3) compare ELISA and GC-MS results for cocaine in sweat; and (4) compare the detection of cocaine use by sweat and urine testing. Cocaine was detected by GC-MS in 99% of ELISA-positive sweat patches; median concentrations of cocaine, BZE, and EME were 378, 78.7, and 74 ng/mL, respectively. Agreement in duplicate patches was approximately 90% by ELISA analysis. The sensitivity, specificity, and efficiency of sweat ELISA cocaine results as compared with sweat GC-MS results were 93.6%, 91.3%, and 93.2%, respectively. The sensitivity, specificity, and efficiency between ELISA sweat patch and EMIT urine results were 97.6%, 60.5%, and 77.7%, respectively. These results support the use of sweat patches for monitoring cocaine use, though further evaluation is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of analytical toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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