Laser surgery ignites internal methane, burns patient down there

Cervical surgery left patient with nasty burns, sparks new gas therapy

Mildly NSFW Tokyo University Medical Hospital has published a pair of reports explaining an incident that left a woman badly burned after surgery.

The reports (PDF 1 and PDF 2) , which we've shoved through an online translate-o-tronic machine, tell the tale of a woman who last April underwent surgery known as a cervical conization. The procedure is sometimes diagnostic or designed to remove pre-cancerous cells.

The first report explain that when the laser was applied, something caught fire and left the patient with burns from the vagina to the anus. It then considers the possible causes of the fire and concludes that no flammable alcohol was used to clean objects or as a disinfectant. The laser was found to work as expected and that surgical drapes were not torn in ways that would have let the laser ignite a stray fibre.

All of which left the report's authors wondering if perhaps the patient's internal methane might have sparked the fire.

Sadly in tests the team was unable to replicate a surgical laser setting fire to vaginal methane, but the second report notes that there are many recorded instances of methane-related problems during surgery.

The first report therefore concludes that the hospital will, in future, insert a "moistened gauze" to ensure that gas escapes before the laser gets to work. ®

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