Mind & Body

Riding Roller Coasters Can Help Pass Kidney Stones

Each year, more than 500,000 people go to the emergency room for issues involving kidney stones—small, hard objects that form when certain chemicals build up in your urine. If they're small enough when they dislodge from the kidney, the stones can travel out of the body with the urine without causing a lot of pain. But if they don't dislodge, they can get bigger and bigger until they risk blocking the urinary tract and requiring surgery.

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.

Can Roller Coasters Help You Pass Kidney Stones?

Hear about the hilarious study that says yes.

How Do Kidney Stones Form?

The entire process, from harmless chemicals to painful mass.

Written by Curiosity Staff October 10, 2016

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