Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Can Farts Really Catch on Fire?

It sounds like an urban myth, but the oxygen and methane in gas passed in flatulence really can, under very rare conditions, catch on fire.

The World Journal of Gastroenterology (article here) reports 20 cases of colon gases catching on fire and exploding during a surgical procedure to remove polyps after colonoscopy.

This doesn't mean it's dangerous to have a colonoscopy. Tens of thousands of doctors across the world have performed tens of millions of colonoscopies, but it's entirely in line for patients to ask that the bowel be "fully prepared" (cleansed with the right kind of enema) before the procedure.

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