By Makoto Mitsui / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Japanese doctor who played the role of patient in a “self-colonoscopy” won an Ig Nobel prize this year at a ceremony held at Harvard University on Thursday. The prize celebrates humorous but thought-provoking achievements in scientific research.
Akira Horiuchi, a director of the general internal medicine department at Showa Inan General Hospital in Komagane, Nagano Prefecture, earned the Medical Education Prize for his report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned from Self-Colonoscopy.”
With his achievement, Japanese scientists have now won Ig Nobel prizes for 12 straight years starting in 2007.
For his studies, Horiuchi, 57, inserted an endoscope into his anus while in a sitting position. The experiment may provoke laughter, but he conducted it in a bid to sincerely understand the feelings of patients during the test.
Horiuchi discovered through his studies that even with tests conducted on the same patient by the same medical examiner, the patient finds each test uncomfortable in different ways.
Horiuchi said he had learned the profound nature of endoscopic tests, which appear simple.
In 2006, the doctor discovered a relatively easier method for conducting a colonoscopy in which patients feel less uncomfortable by taking a small dose of anesthetic.
Invented by Horiuchi, the method attracted the attention of medical institutions across the nation and is now known as “the Komagane method.”
At Thursday’s award ceremony, Horiuchi introduced the procedure for a self-colonoscopy by posing in a sitting position onstage, drawing a burst of laughter from the audience.