What are the types of body packing in cocaine toxicity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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McCarron and Wood identified 3 types of packages, with the following physical and radiographic characteristics and risk for rupture: [43]

  • Type 1: Condoms, toy balloons, or fingers of latex gloves contained cocaine in loose white powder form. Typically, the package material was stuffed with cocaine, tied, folded back on itself, and tied again at the opposite end. A variation involved wrapping a package with masking tape to make a small bundle, then covering it with 2 more condoms tied with fishing line. Type 1 packages radiographically appeared as well-defined circular or cigar-shaped white opacities. Ties, if radiographically apparent, had a rosette appearance. If gas halos were observed, they were irregular. This type of cocaine package posed the highest risk for breakage or leaching.

  • Type 2: About 5-7 layers of tubular latex, with a smooth tie on each end, covered white or light yellow matted cocaine powder. On direct inspection of the bundles, they appeared light yellow and were relatively large and uniform in size. These radiopaque bundles were oblong. When viewed radiographically, gas halos were present and regular, but no ties were apparent. Type 2 packages were less susceptible to breaking than type 1 packages.

  • Type 3: Yellow, hardened cocaine paste wrapped in aluminum foil, then wrapped again with 3-5 layers of tubular latex and securely tied at both ends. These packages were hard, smaller than type 1 and type 2 packages, and irregularly sized. They did not appear as foreign bodies on abdominal images. No breakage or leaching of cocaine was reported with this type of package.

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