Rollercoasters help jiggle kidney stones out

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All fun and games until someone passes a kidney stone.
Credit: Chad Slattery / Getty Images

Rollercoasters aren’t just a thrillthey can help patients pass small kidney stones, according to a report published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The work came about when Michigan State University urologist David Wartinger was told by a series of patients that they’d passed kidney stones after riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster at Walt Disney World in Orlando. In one case, a patient said he passed a kidney stone after each of three consecutive rides on the rollercoaster.

So Wartinger and his colleagues decided to find out in the forces generated by rollercoaster rides could, in fact, help pass the mineral deposits from the urinary tract.

They created a clear silicone anatomical model of a kidney, filled it with urine and added kidney stones of different sizes in the lower, middle or upper kidney passageways.

Then came the best part – they rode the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 20 times with the kidney in a backpack (with permission from the park, of course).

Sitting in the back of the rollercoaster saw nearly two-thirds of the kidney stones pass through. In the front seats, though, only around 17% passed.

“Passing a kidney stone before it reaches an obstructive size can prevent surgeries and emergency room visits,” Wartinger says.

“Rollercoaster riding after treatments like lithotripsy and before planned pregnancies may prevent stone enlargement and the complications of ureteral obstruction.”

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