The Cable

Japanese Hospital Inquiry Finds That Lasers and Farts Don’t Mix

A Japanese hospital conducted a formal review of an incident where a patient caught fire after passing gas in surgery


Medical professionals take note: Lasers and farts don’t mix well, according to a formal hospital report released last week in Japan.

On April 15, a fire broke out in the Tokyo Medical University Hospital’s Shinjuku Ward, burning a patient as she was undergoing laser surgery on the lower part of her body. According to an independent committee of experts, the laser likely caught fire when the patient passed gas.

The committee released the report to the hospital on October 28, according to the Asahi Shimbun. The report found that all equipment in the operating room was functioning normally, and there were no other flammable materials in the room.

“When the patient’s intestinal gas leaked into the space of the operation (room), it ignited with the irradiation of the laser, and the burning spread, eventually reaching the surgical drape and causing the fire,” the report said.

This seems to be the first case of a fart-induced laser fire in an operating theater. The report did not appear to offer any recommendations to keep it from happening again.

Photo Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

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