1. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A needle and a bottle

    Discussion in 'Research' started by DeadMoon, May 11, 2016.

    I was awake in bed pondering over a question. This is something that I am considering putting in my book.
    It will go something like this...

    One person will want to poison another. They will do this by a bottle of wine or champagne. The question part is this - Could a person push a needle through a cork, inject the poison and take the needle out without the wine/champagne losing any (or very little) of the fizz ie: not going flat.?
     
  2. Sifunkle
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    Just to be clear, you mean a hypodermic needle attached to a syringe?

    The most pragmatic question is whether it's sparkling wine or not. If it's not then it's a moot point: there's no issue with losing effervescence and you'd only have to worry about whether the injection hole were noticeable (I'd doubt it if a fine enough needle were used, especially if it's natural cork, which has a pretty 'holey' appearance as is), or if the poison were detectable by some other means.

    If it must be sparkling wine, I reckon it's still possible. I think cork (natural or synthetic) has pretty similar properties to injection ports - they're both designed to create an effective seal. The hole would rapidly close over once the needle was withdrawn, so the bubbly would lose very little fizz. To be on the safe side, use a smaller gauge needle, like a 23-25g (although as cork is quite tough, there'd be a greater risk of snapping a finer needle if you weren't careful).

    Two problems:
    • If the needle were to become clogged with a little piece of cork - more likely the smaller the needle gauge used. Easy to remedy; just try again.
    • Carbon dioxide gas stays dissolved in solution while a bottle is sealed because it's under pressure until you take the cork out. This means that when you stick the needle in, there will be a big force trying to fill the syringe rather than empty it. Basically, without care, the syringe will fill with champagne. Potentially the plunger will even pop out of the barrel, which certainly will cause the champagne to lose its fizz/the bottle to lose its contents.
      Your character would need to be mindful of this before injecting and hold the syringe's plunger firmly in place. Think of how hard it is to hold a champagne bottle's cork on once you've loosened it. Then add the extra force needed to actually push the plunger in to inject.
      On top of that, when you press forcefully on a syringe plunger, you run the risk of the needle popping off rather than the solution passing through it. The likelihood of this increases as the gauge of your needle decreases (or more specifically, as the disparity between the diameters of the syringe and needle increases). So your character would also need to be mindful to hold the needle securely onto the syringe, or could use a luer-lock setup where they actually screw onto each other (rather than just pressing on, as is standard).
    So overall, I reckon it's definitely possible, but probably trickier to achieve than it might seem (and I'm sure there would be clues for forensics...). And when I started writing this response, I thought I only had a couple of sentences for you...

    Good luck!
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    Yes, if the needle were very fine, which is a bit of a problem because you would be hard pressed to find a 30 gauge needle that was long enough. 30 gauge is very thin. I do see a 27 gauge 1.5 inch needle but 27 would likely leave a mark.

    A small needle isn't going to get clogged with cork @Sifunkle, if that were the case they wouldn't be very effective for injections.

    But a very fine needle would need to be very carefully inserted to keep from breaking it off.

    I have a 27 gauge but I don't have any corks. Next time I buy some bordeaux I can test it for you. But my 27 gauges are only 1/2 inch so it won't be a perfect test.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    Wait, they do make long 30 gauge needles for local anesthesia. So you can find them.
     
  5. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I'll respectfully disagree. Cork has a much greater tendency to expand (hence clog the lumen of the needle) than skin does because cork is specifically designed to do that. And in my experience, fine needles aren't very effective for injections through much other than thin skin.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    But the needle pushes the cork aside, it's not about the cork expanding. It's whether the needle pushes the substance out of the way or slices a slender thread filling the lumen. A hypodermic needle doesn't dissect little tissue slices out. The only time needles get clogged is when you try to inject particulates through them.

    If they sliced little tissue threads going in, you'd be injecting emboli with every IV injection.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    Further, looking at needle biopsies illustrates the issue, to obtain needle core biopsies one uses enhanced cutting edge needles, not your standard injection bevel design.
     
  8. Sifunkle
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    @GingerCoffee - One of the two main techniques in performing a fine needle aspirate is to do it without the syringe attached. Admittedly this is for cytology rather than biopsy proper, but it would still be difficult if the hypodermic didn't 'dissect out a little tissue slice' to some extent. Particularly in sampling epithelial tissue or carcinomata (where the cells are firmly adherent to each other), it pretty much is a tiny biopsy. And they definitely can become clogged while doing so.

    That aside, many biopsy needles do have the same basic design as hypodermics - a cylindrical tube with a standard bevelled edge. E.g. Jamshidi: they have a stylet to push the tissue core out with once the needle has been withdrawn.

    Maybe you are injecting tiny emboli with every IV injection, bearing in mind that plenty of emboli won't cause observable pathology. It's not unheard of to get pathologic emboli following IV injection, so there probably are plenty of others that lodge in some unimportant capillary bed and have no noticeable effect.

    My initial phrasing suggested that it was possible, and I know from experience that it is. Sometimes a needle pushes tissue out of the way as it's supposed to; sometimes it doesn't, and in some of those cases the needle gets clogged. Whether it's likely in cork, I don't know.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    I can accept that some tissue on some occasions will end up in the needle. But, there's no way in hell that these microemboli are not well known in the medical community and they are not.

    I'm going to stand with what I know and what I've known for 40 years of nursing and being a nurse practitioner, needles don't collect threads of tissue on the way in. They push the bio material aside, with the exception of specially designed biopsy needles.

    If you have some medical literature to the contrary, I would be more than interested in it.

    In the meantime, I would bet dollars to donuts that should any cork remnants end up in the needle, they would naturally be smaller than the lumen and easily ejected with the injection of the poison. I'm not buying your expanding material hypothesis either. :p

    But I am enjoying this discussion. :)
     
  10. Sifunkle
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    I doubt the medical community is very interested in processes as inconsequential as what I was proposing, but it's well known that physiological microemboli occur. As well as phagocytic cells, there are various anti-thrombotic, fibrinolytic, etc chemicals in the blood to deal with natural emboli, and I'd imagine the body could deal with plenty of iatrogenic ones too (without medical intervention).

    From Girling's Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets:

    (For context, that's about intraosseous fluid administration.)

    That took me 30 seconds on Google. Granted it's a textbook and not a peer-reviewed article, but I don't think an academic pissing contest is necessary for something that IMO is self-evident.

    I can live with that. Makes sense to me though, given that I'm talking about the very reason why corks effectively seal bottles. And the neck of a bottle is just a long cylinder, like...

    I'm concerned that we've derailed the thread...

    How about a drink Ginger? ;):twisted:
     
  11. DeadMoon
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    I did not think I would get such a debate on the topic but am glad I did. Thank you guys for the help. I can see going one of two ways: either the needle works with no loss to the pressure or there is loss and a noticeable mark and that could bring on more tension and chaos. thanks again for the help
     
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  12. Cave Troll
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    @DeadMoon Well every body said all the important stuff. All I can say is that it will be a challenge to insert a small gauge needle into a cork, at least completely. The thinner needle could bend or break off about the middle due to the amount of pressure you would need to get it into the cork. So you could use a larger gauge if the cork is natural, but you do come across the possibility of clogging it (we will say that is 50/50). Only way to know for sure is to sit down with some corks and multiple needles (which are pretty cheap once you can find them) and simply try to force them into the cork and observe your results. Also get a syringe and redo the test, it will be much harder with a finer needle. (You can get a syringe that will allow you to swap needles, making this testing much simpler). This is really all I got. Test it out for yourself, and you will also be able to write it from a point of applicable reference. Good luck, and if you do try this theory, be safe. :)
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    What nobody else has mentioned is how do you get the needle through the metal cap? [​IMG]

    Plus, you only get access to the metal cap by removing the foil, which is a bit of a give-away that this bottle isn't quite factory-fresh.
     
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  14. Cave Troll
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    Well now that is conundrum. Maybe (work with me on this) they have a bottle that does not have the foil on it. You could in theory slip a 30 gauge needle between the mouth of the bottle and the cork. Going to be tight and the needle will bend, but that is alright bent it will still work (unless you bend it 90 degrees or more). So technically there is a way, and I know there are some bottles of sparkling wine that do not have foil on them. Problem solved.

    And the crowd goes wild! (crickets) :supergrin:

    @Shadowfax I think the easiest thing that @DeadMoon could do is simply poison the glass by waiting until the intended target is distracted, or when he leaves his drink unattended. But that just doesn't sound as cool when you think about it. :)
     
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  15. matwoolf
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    [​IMG]
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    I have to get to work but there are some interesting things to address here. I don't think @DeadMoon minds the sidetrack.

    I don't think you can compare bone to cork. Bone isn't flexible so instead of compression by the needle that would happen with cork, and which is how the material is pushed out of the way, bone would be more likely to splinter and maybe enter the needle lumen.

    Fine needle aspirate biopsy still relies on negative pressure of the syringe to draw material into the lumen.

    As for the microemboli no one cares about, still not buying that. But I will make an attempt to find evidence of your hypothesis (since you didn't ;)) and get back to you.

    If you're ever in town I'll take you up on the offer to get a drink. :p
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    @Shadowfax, you're right about champaign, so it would have to be wine and not be carbonated.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    Don't take this wrong, my goal is to learn something and if tissue enters an injection needle lumen and I never knew that, I am compelled by my insatiable curiosity to look into it. :p

    I found mixed results, some procedures and larger lumen sizes are more problematic than others.

    Incidence of Tissue Coring During Transseptal Catheterization When Using Electrocautery and A Standard Transseptal Needle
    I've never seen latex cores in my 50 test Tubersol vial. I use 27s on those and they do get punctured 50 times. And I do look because it's an ingrained habit to look for sediment in any vial I am drawing from and I know latex particles can end up in the vial.

    Reading up on this it appears there is a problem with large bore needles, 22g and larger. At least according to the sales material on non-coring needle designs which can be used. Non-coring needles are mandatory to use on PICC lines, I think. They are curved at the tip so the lumen is shielded.

    Here's one that supports what you've said using 20g needles:
    The incidence of tissue coring during the performance of caudal injection in children.
    Here's another one showing low but not zero incidence with an 18g needle:
    The incidence of coring with blunt versus sharp needles
    Conclusion based on my minimal lit review: It happens more often than I thought and less often than you suggested, especially with small gauge needles. :agreed:


    I'll test the hypothesis when I open the wine tonight that I bought today to have a glass. I plan to stick the cork repeatedly with a 27g tuberculin needle and try to get particulate into it, then see if it plugs the needle. :D
     
  19. PBrady
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    A small diameter syringe can generate over 70psi from a force of 5lbs on the plunger. A typical champagne bottle has a pressure of 70-90psi. It should be possible to force the contents into a bottle against the internal pressure. The cork will self-seal when the needle is removed.
    A small hole in the foil lid could go unnoticed. The only issue is the needle. There are a wide range of needle gauges. A cardiac puncture needle that is intended to go through a sternum would do it - although it would leave a noticeable hole. This could easily be masked with a little manual dexterity.

    However, a much easier way would be to evaporate the toxin to coat the inside of the glass. A small amount of sodium azide could be coated into a glass and would readily rehydrate as the drink is added.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    But what about the wired on metal cap that are on champaign bottles?
    You don't go through the sternum, you go up under it. I know, I've done it, more than once. True story— it's where you draw a serum sample from a cadaver. And, you also go between the ribs to get left atrial lines in.

    There are needles that go through bone, though. Besides bone marrow aspiration, the new thing in emergency medicine if you can't a line in is to drill into the bone marrow.

    Intraosseous infusion
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  21. Cave Troll
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    @GingerCoffee I already figured a way around that problem in an earlier post. It was not too complicated, but it is still a challege. :p
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    Results of actual test, I was unable to clog a 27 g needle after puncturing a wine cork multiple times. I was also unable to recover any cork core from the needle.
    I had a syringe half full of water so there was plenty of give from compressing air allowing the needle lumen to fill. And I then used the water to check the if the needle was plugged or to see if any particulates came out of the needle. They didn't.

    But in removing the cork, I note you cannot go through the outer seal without leaving a mark. The needle, however left no visible mark on the cork itself, especially if you go through the little printed mark that are on the tops of some corks.
     
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  23. GingerCoffee
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    Also, if your character can get a long 27 g, you can carefully get it through the cork without bending it. Probably could get a 30g through it also because the sharpness of the needle lessens the pressure you have to use pushing the needle.
     
  24. DeadMoon
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    Much idea spinning in my head. Thank you so much everyone for the help. I really appreciate all of the idea, suggestions and tests.
     
  25. Cave Troll
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    I am finding that box of wine with @matwoolf to be a most attractive. :superlaugh:

    Cause this murder has turned into Assassinations In Tedious ways For dummies. :superlaugh:

    On the serious side of things though, you might want to mention how many hours it took him to get this routine down pat. It will make the fact that when it succeeds that much more rewarding in the end. Going to have to put it on a list of most vexing ways to kill off a character. And sadly this one isn't in the most convoluted in the lot. Good luck to you and I hope it works out, the whole poisoning the guy's wine/champagne. By the way send the poor chap who has to do this task my regards, cause I feel bad for him and the trials you have put him through.(And this box of band-aids, for the hole trial and error thing):supergrin:
    Hello-Kitty_Band-Aid.jpg Cause nothing screams macho quite like Hello Kitty. :supergrin:(Approved my hitmen everywhere)
     

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