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Colonic 'gas blast' rattles Swedish operating room

The Local/dl · 19 Dec 2011, 12:43

Published: 19 Dec 2011 12:43 GMT+01:00

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The incident took place in August at a clinic in Motala in central Sweden in connection with a procedure to remove a polyp from the intestine of a man in his mid-sixties.

After the growth had been removed, doctors began to perform an electrocautery, a procedure in which the edges around where the polyp was located were burned to prevent any bleeding and to ensure the growth was fully removed.

“Suddenly, there was a powerful blast in the room and the patient felt pain in his stomach,” doctors wrote in their report of the incident.

“The patient turned pale and his head began to nod.”

The procedure was halted immediately, and a subsequent x-ray examination revealed small gas bubbles had built up in the fatty tissues at the base of his large intestine.

The startled doctors also contacted the supplier of the equipment used in the procedure, and were told that the explosion was likely caused by a rare complication stemming from a buildup of methane gas in the intestine.

After staying in hospital overnight for observation, the patient was released the following day without any further complications from the blast of colonic gas.

Story continues below…

In hopes of avoiding a repeat of the incident during future procedures, doctors plan to use carbon dioxide rather than regular air in order to “avoid the risk of an explosion due to methane gas”.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:15 December 19, 2011 by krrodman
Gives a new meaning to "internal combustion engine!"

By the way, this event occurred during a colonoscopy, not surgery as shown in the photo and noted in the article,


switching to carbon dioxide reduces the chance of explosion but has other significant side-effects such as systemic acidosis.

Pick your poison..........
15:16 December 19, 2011 by John.Smith
Must have been some fart to be called a 'powerful blast' !
19:57 December 19, 2011 by Greekfan
Sounds like too much pea soup to me.
21:05 December 19, 2011 by TRJ
The envy of fraternity pledges everywhere...
01:42 December 20, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Talk about a flamer! Now that's entertainment!
05:27 December 20, 2011 by RobinHood
I can recreate this incident at will. I am avaiable for weddings and bar mitzvahs at reasonable prices.
07:49 December 20, 2011 by karex
Wouldn't it have been far smarter and plain sensible to have used cryo cauterization instead of heat. Everyone knows methane gas builds up in the intestinal region. It doesn't take a doctor to figure this out. Any 10-year-old who pays reasonable attention in school can figure this one out.
10:33 December 20, 2011 by gabeltoon
WOW thanks for making me laugh. On a more serious note i hope the patient is doing well.
09:55 December 23, 2011 by Da Goat
news that is 4 months old no wonder it explodes due to gas build up!

news is supposed to be published pronto not put in a tin with the surstromming!

I for one can't hold gas from August until now.

what a hoot they should have put that on youtube!
16:12 December 23, 2011 by tadchem
The bubbles *inside* the intestine would not be explosive beause they lack oxygen. Only the gas released during the procedure - methane, methyl mercaptain, and dimethyl sulfide - that had already mixed with oxygen would be explosive, and then only in a fraternity flash fart sort of way.

On the other hand, a lot of gases used in general anesthesia can form explosive mixtures with air. Often anesthesiologists are unaware that electrocautery can detonate these air-anesthesia mixtures.
03:47 December 28, 2011 by Rob99
I read as long ago as in 1981, a warning about such occurrences in the Classic textbook of Physiology by late Arthur C. Guyton. I am glad the patient and the staff are doing well.
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