Last but NOT least, we turn to the Ignobel prize in medicine. And while titles which say things like "Argon plasma coagulation in the treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis", well, don't be fooled by the title. This research is, shall we say, explosively important. The papers are just...bursting with data. And if some people find the results of the studies...volatile, well, that's their problem.

Ladas et al. "Colonic gas explosion during therapeutic colonoscopy with electrocautery" World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2007.


Ben-Soussan et al. "Argon plasma coagulation in the treatment of hemorrhagic radiation proctitis is efficient but requires a perfect colonic cleansing to be safe" European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 2004.

...I would try and find a photo for this, but I bet there's NOTHING appropriate...

So here's the thing. People need to get colonoscopies for a variety of reasons. That's all well and good. But the COMPLICATIONS of having a scope up your butt are more than just mere discomfort. They could, you know, involve explosive gas.

Of course we all produce gas, our digestive systems do it all the time. And normally that gas is not particularly explosive (particularly loud farts notwithstanding). But when you combine the methane gas that we normally produce with, say, oxygen, a highly combustive gas not normally found in your bowel, and a heat source, like, say from a colonoscopy lamp...well things can go boom.

And it's really not a pleasant thing. Aside from the potential discomfort to the physician administering the exam, an explosion INSIDE YOUR BUTT is generally pretty bad for it. This can often result in things like perforation of the colon, and people need immediately emergency surgery.

So you want to try to prevent the explosions from happening. When you introduce a probe, well you can't avoid introducing oxygen and a heat source, so what you need to do is reduce the GAS. This means you need to try colonic cleansing. There are a couple of options as to how to do this. You can give lots of clear liquids LOTS of laxatives. Or you can give enemas. Or, for extra fun and profit, you can give both!

Both of the papers looked at the incidence of "colonic gas explosion", and how to stop it. The conclusion? Enemas are probably not best. Because they can still miss some tightly packed stool WAAAY up in there, and stool presence is the highest risk for the exploding gas trick. It's best instead to use a combination, or just oral methods to clear yourself out beforehand. But no matter what, clearing out is imperative! The consequences of not doing so could be...explosive.

And that was the LAST of this year's 2012 Ignobel prizes!!!! But don't worry, the first annual Ignobel prizes happen EVERY YEAR!! And with any luck, Sci would like to be there to cover them again. Until next year, laugh...and then think.