BOSTON – A Japanese doctor was recognized Thursday with an Ig Nobel prize, which honor comical but practical scientific studies, for devising the most comfortable colonoscopy technique by using himself as a test subject.
Akira Horiuchi, a 57-year-old head of the digestive disease center at Showa Inan General Hospital in Nagano Prefecture, received the prize for medical education at a ceremony at Harvard University.
A colonoscopy, which can help detect colon cancer, is usually done with the examinee lying on his or her side as a tube is inserted through the anus.
Doing a self-colonoscopy while sitting, Horiuchi discovered the method facilitated entry. After a series of trials, he shared his personal experiences in a 2006 medical report titled, “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”
But Horiuchi isn’t recommending that you give yourself a colonoscopy in the comfort of your home. He said via email that many people are afraid of getting a colonoscopy and he just wanted to show how easy it can be.
“If people watch a video of my self-colonoscopy, they think colonoscopy is simple and easy,” he said.
People may laugh at the winners, but Horiuchi said winning an Ig Nobel brings attention to studies such as his that might otherwise be ignored.
It was the 12th straight year that a Japanese person has won an Ig Nobel prize.
At the awards ceremony, Horiuchi provoked laughter as he showed an endoscope to the audience and asked whether he could perform the procedure on stage.
The prize was one of the 10 Ig Nobel awards given this year. Other scientific studies honored this year included those highlighting the benefits of using a voodoo doll to take out anger on a boss and attempts to hasten the passage of kidney stones by riding roller coasters.