Of all the things we might fear when going under before surgery, most likely the thought that we might pass gas and cause a major disaster is not even on the radar. But for one Japanese woman in Tokyo, that’s exactly what happened, and the results were life-threatening.
The bizarre episode took place at Tokyo Medical University, where a woman was sedated with anesthesia for a gynecological surgery.
A post-surgical report detailed the horrifying incident.
“When the patient’s intestinal gas leaked into the . . . [operating room], it ignited with the irradiation of the laser, and the burning spread, eventually reaching the surgical drape and causing the fire,” the report noted.
That would have been awful enough, but the situation went from bad to worse quickly. The fire consumed the woman’s body, and she was badly burned, on her legs especially.
While the incident may be uncommon, it is far from unique. Author Robert Provine says in a book he wrote on strange bodily phenomena that “a gassy gut can be fatal, as it was for a patient having a colonic polyp cauterized. An electric spark caused the patient’s bowels to detonate, blasting out the colonoscopy and ripping a six-inch hole in the patient’s large intestine.”
Not exactly the outcome he was hoping for.
How can such things happen, you ask? Well, it requires a bit of a perfect storm, but if the patient’s intestinal gasses are explosive enough, and if there is anything flammable in the area, it is a danger.
So next time you have surgery lined up, stay away from Mexican food the night before. You don’t want that to be the last meal you’ll ever eat.
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