View Full Version : chemical question re Monday's episode of Bones

07-09-2008, 08:51 AM
On Monday's episode of Bones (The Intern in the Incinerator) a character was killed by an overdose of a drug that in the human body converts to potassium so it's often overlooked in toxicology screenings. The name of the drug was something choline -- and I might be spelling the choline part wrong.

Does anyone know how to spell the actual name of that drug? I think it's one a character of mine might use in the future but to look it up further, I need to know how to spell it.

BTW, if anyone does have any more info on that drug, I'd appreciate it.


07-09-2008, 09:13 AM
I didn't see the show, but it might have been succinylcholine chloride. That's the drug Carl Coppolino used to kill his wife in a famous New Jersey murder case. It's undetectable at autopsy, but I think it affects potassium levels.

07-09-2008, 02:29 PM
On that subject, I think Agatha Cristie used the leaf of a common tree as an undetectable murder weapon - was it the elder? Anyone know?

07-09-2008, 06:08 PM
Don't make me swear by it, but I think it was acetyl choline

07-09-2008, 08:33 PM
Don't make me swear by it, but I think it was acetyl cholineAcetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, like serotonin, not a drug per se. It seems unlikely, although it is a TV show.

I looked up succinylcholine and it does break down and raise potassium levels.

It's also possible they didn't want to accurately use the name of the drug in the show, for fear of giving someone ideas and getting sued.

07-09-2008, 09:55 PM

So glad you asked this. I'd been intrigued by the something-choline too, and had intended to google it. Promptly forgot.

Raised potassium levels were mentioned in the show. So I think Rugcat's got it. Succinylcholine.

07-09-2008, 10:37 PM
It should be succinylcholine (oops, KCH responded above), although I'm not a Bones watcher. It can raise potassium levels in some patients, but it's been so long since my ICU days that I don't remember the mechanism. It's used as a muscle relaxant before inserting an endotracheal tube.

07-09-2008, 11:30 PM
Yes, everyone who answered "succinylcholine" that is correct. They said the name several times but I knew I had no clue as the spelling of the first part. I figured I was either right or darn close for the choline part.

Thank you to everyone who responded. Just to clarify, it's a muscle relaxor but in high doses it can relax the heart to the point that it stops beating, which is how it was used on the show, but since it then converts to potassium, most autopsies miss it unless they have reason to think it might be used.

The science on Bones is usually pretty darn good because they have a team of experts. I don't think the crime shows today worry too much about copycats like MacGyver used to.

Thanks again! One of my characters is an expert in chemistry, poisons and toxicology so I always have my ears open for interesting things she could use.