A thrilling roller coaster ride can potentially help patients dislodge kidney stones without the need for surgery, a new study revealed.

Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) rode a roller coaster multiple times in order to confirm widespread accounts from patients saying that such rides can help pass kidney stones. The success rates for the rides were quite unprecedented.

Patients' Accounts

Study lead author David Wartinger said they became curious about the benefits of roller coasters when patients recounted stories of dislodging a kidney stone after riding a particular roller coaster at Walt Disney World.

One patient told Wartinger he passed three different kidney stones after hopping on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster several times.

"The moment one of my students and I realized we had to move forward was hearing from a patient who rode the ride three times and after each consecutive ride he passed a stone," said Wartinger, who is a professor emeritus at the university.

Because of this, Wartinger and his team wanted to determine exactly why and how roller coaster rides trigger the passage of those small stones.

Confirming The Theory

Wartinger and his co-author Mark Mitchell used a synthetic 3D model of a hollow kidney that contained three kidney stones no bigger than 4 millimeters. They filled the model with urine and placed it in a backpack during a ride on Big Thunder Mountain, with the permission of theme park officials.

The duo held the kidney model between themselves at the location of a real kidney to mimic the forces experienced by a real person. After getting on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 20 times, they hopped onto the Walt Disney World railroad and Space Mountain for a total of 60 rides.

Results Of The Study

During the pilot study, the stone passage rate when riding in the last car of the Big Thunder Mountain was approximately 64 percent. On the other hand, riding in the front car resulted in a stone passage rate of almost 17 percent.

When researchers rode the same rides with multiple kidney models attached to them during the expanded study, the success rate was even higher. Sitting at the last car of the roller coaster led to a passage rate of almost 70 percent.

What's more, both the pilot and expanded study revealed a 100 percent passage rate if kidney stones were in the upper chamber of the kidney.

"Big Thunder Mountain was the only one that worked," said Wartinger, adding that Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Space Mountain both failed.

The urologist said other roller coaster rides are too violent and too fast with a G-force that pins the stone into the kidney, which does not allow it to dislodge.

He said the ideal roller coaster is one that is quick, rough, has some twists and turns but no inverted or upside down movements.

Details of the new research are published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

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