Published on September 24th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


Who Knew Colonoscopies Could Be So Explosive

When you reach 50 doctor’s will bug you to go and get a colonoscopy done as a check for cancer and needless to say this is not something that any of us want to be putting at the top of our to-do list. After all there’s cleansing and then there’s the colonic cleansing liquid diet they put you followed shortly after by having a camera up your butt.

However there may be a whole new reason to really dread that doctor appointment and it’s called “colonic gas explosions”

Yup, you read that right. Colonic gas explosion, which means at some point during your exam your lower intestine may go “boom”. Now of course this is an incredibly rare event and requires three things to be present in order for it to happen:

1. The presence of combustible gases – hydrogen and/or methane – both of which your lower intestine is designed to create quite proficiently.

2. The presence of oxygen

3. Application of a heat source

So when it comes to “colonic gas explosion” your body provides the first two and then the third can be provided by a technique called electrocautery which is the heat used to remove potentially cancerous intestinal growths more commonly known as polyps. To have the perfect situation that can cause this ‘event’ you would need a high concentration of hydrogen and/or methane – greater than 4% or 5%, respectively – along with plenty of oxygen and then a nice hot electrocautery tool being added to the mix.

Now before you start freaking out and rush to cancel that much anticipated exam understand that a survey of all the literature on the subject shows that there has only been 20 cases of colonic gas explosion between 1952 and October 2006 and only one of those proved to be fatal. The key they found was that those that suffered such an event were because they were due to unprepared (aka unclean) large intestines which means making sure that you actually complete the colonic cleansing liquid diet; and follow any other instructions, is very important.

Failing that … well … good luck.

via io9



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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

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