A new study suggests that a ride on a roller-coaster will help you pass a small kidney stone. The prescription may sound like too much fun to be true, but a urologist in Michigan said that a spin on one of those dizzying rides can sometimes be all that is necessary to pass a painful kidney stone.
The urological surgeon, David Wartinger, had heard his patients share experiences where they returned from Disney World with fewer kidney stones. He didn’t believe that the two were related until a man shared his story about the Magic Kingdom’s Thunder Mountain.
After the man went on the ride for the first time, he passed a small stone. He got onto the ride again and passed another one and a third after his third ride.
“That was just too powerful to ignore. I’d been hearing these anecdotal stories for a couple of years, and then I thought, okay, there’s really something here,” said Wartinger.
When he spoke to more people about accidentally passing stones, he realized that they had all gotten onto Thunder Mountain. This encouraged him to conduct a study.
Wartinger used a 3D printer to make a silicone replica of the kidney of the man who passed three stones at Thunder Mountain. He filled it with his own urine and fake stones, and headed to Disney World with his colleague, Marc Mitchell.
The fake kidney was packed in a backpack and they planned to hold it between them on Thunder Mountain.
“We went to guest services, and we didn’t want them to wonder what was going on — two adult men riding the same ride again and again, carrying a backpack. We told them what our intent was, and it turned out that the manager that day was a guy who recently had a kidney stone. He called the ride manager and said, do whatever you can to help these guys, they’re trying to help people with kidney stones,” he said.
They rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad more than 200 times. They discovered that the centripetal force caused the small stones to pass through the kidney 63.89% of the time when they sat at the back of the roller coaster but 16.67% while sitting in the front.
Wartinger plans to carry out clinical trials involving real people with real kidney stones. The initial results indicate that riding roller coasters will help people pass kidney stones smaller than 5 millimeters.
The solution may seem silly, but it is important to consider that if a kidney stone stays in the body for long enough and grows to a stage where the person has to visit the emergency room to have it removed, it can be very expensive. America spends $3.8 billion on the treatment of kidney stones every year.
While a trip to Disney World isn’t exactly easy on the pocket, it’s still more fun than visiting the ER.