Urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed that many of his patients reported passing small kidney stones after the same activity—riding a roller coaster. One such patient even dislodged a stone on each of three rides on the same roller coaster. That gave him an idea. For a study that was published in 2016 in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Wartinger created a 3D silicone model of a kidney and filled it with real kidney stones and urine. Then he and a colleague headed for Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando with their sights set on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where many of Wartinger's patients had passed their kidney stones. With permission from park staff acquired and the 3D kidney safely hidden in a backpack, the men rode the roller coaster 60 times. After each ride, they counted how many stones had passed, then reset the stones and urine in the kidney for the next ride.
The researchers found that kidney stones passed only 16.67% of the time when they sat in the front seats of the coaster, but the stones passed a whopping 63.89% of the time when they were in the back. If these results hold up, this harmless—and dare we say, fun—treatment for kidney stones has the potential to save a lot of trips to the emergency room. Learn more about the study in the videos below.