‘Whee! I just passed a kid­ney stone’

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Have a kid­ney stone? Well, step right up to the roller coaster! Re­searchers found tak­ing a ride on the Big Thun­der Moun­tain Rail­road roller coaster at Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando can cause kid­ney stones to pass.

Dr. David Wartinger, an au­thor of the findings pub­lished in the jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Os­teo­pathic As­so­ci­a­tion, said for years pa­tients have told him that af­ter rid­ing Big Thun­der their kid­ney stones passed. When one pa­tient told Wartinger he passed sev­eral kid­ney stones af­ter three con­sec­u­tive rides, he “couldn’t ignore it any­more” and de­cided to con­duct an ex­per­i­ment.

A uro­log­i­cal sur­geon and pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Michi­gan State Univer­sity, Wartinger tested the idea us­ing a 3-D model of that pa­tient’s kid­ney. He filled the kid­ney with stones and urine.

Wartinger and co-au­thor Marc Mitchell rode the ride 60 times in var­i­ous po­si­tions with the model kid­ney in a back­pack. When rid­ing in the rear of the coaster, stones passed 63.9% of the time. While in the front of the coaster, stones passed 16.6% of the time.

Wartinger said this is prob­a­bly be­cause at the end of the coaster, more force is gen­er­ated to en­cour­age stones to pass. Big Thun­der is a rel­a­tively re­lax­ing ride com­pared to big coast­ers, gen­er­at­ing a max­i­mum speed of 35 mph. “It’s not a high-end thrill ride,” Wartinger said. “Peo­ple in wheel­chairs ride it, el­derly peo­ple” ride it.

Roller coast­ers like Big Thun­der can be a le­git­i­mate so­lu­tion to pass­ing kid­ney stones, avoid­ing the pain and cost of hospi­tal-re­lated treat­ment when a stone be­comes too large for nat­u­ral blad­der pas­sage, he said. Treat­ment of­ten in­volves med­i­ca­tion, but this study is an ex­am­ple of “what we can do to pre­vent bad things from hap­pen­ing from the get-go,” he added.

Rid­ing in the front of the coaster was less ef­fec­tive for pass­ing kid­ney stones than rid­ing in the back.

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