Roller Coasters as the New Medicine for Kidney Stones?


Jocelyn Reeder, reporter

We all have heard of Kidney Stones right? How painful they are? Going to the emergency room to get rid of them only to find out it could cost around 10,000-20,000 dollars to get them removed. What if there was a way to help prevent kidney stones from getting larger?

“Passing a kidney stone before it reaches an obstructive size can prevent surgeries and emergency room visits,” said co-author David Wartinger, professor of urology at Michigan State University. The team heard about this by a patient who rode the ride about three times and after each ride he passed the stone. This caused them to move forward with investigating how well the ride really works.

In 2016, A team of urologists, 3D-printed a patient’s kidney from silicone, filled it with urine, and added three kidney stones. They then took the kidney and put it on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster. The team also used different sized kidneys to determine how effectively the ride reduces the kidney stone. They rode the ride at least twenty times. The ride is not that scary, in fact it only takes sharp right and sharp left turns. This movement showed many wonderful results.

The researchers concluded that “Roller coaster riding after treatments like lithotripsy and before planned pregnancies may prevent stone enlargement and the complications of ureteral obstruction.” According to the study the urologist did, by sitting in the back of the roller coaster caused the stones to pass the kidney by 64%. If you sit in the front the stones pass the kidney by 17%.

The ride was mostly effective on smaller kidney stones. Which usually means stones under 4 millimeters. However, the ride does reduce larger kidney stones. Not only can you pass a kidney stone on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, you can take a trip to any mildly thrilling roller coaster to pass those kidney stones.