If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you will remember because it brings with it an exquisite pain that you would not want to wish on your worst enemy. There are a wide variety of treatments available, including drinking lots of water, medication, lithotripsy and, in the most serious cases, surgery. Now a new treatment is being evaluated for efficacy: roller coaster therapy.

There has apparently long been anecdotal evidence connecting roller coaster rides to passing of kidney stones. Urologist David Wartinger decided that the time had come to run scientific trials on the premise that a ride on a roller coaster can assist sufferers in passing their kidney stones. The doctor and a colleague had their findings published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association in an article entitled Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster.

It would seem to be hard for the lab-coated readers of the journal article not to crack a smile or stifle a giggle at the thought of a couple of serious-minded urologists getting in line at the Magic Kingdom for ride after ride of the Big Thunder Mountain Railway coaster with a silicone model of a human kidney filled with a handful of carefully placed real kidney stones in a bath of real urine, concealed in a backpack. One can imagine the looks of consternation aimed at a reader of the journal in the middle a hospital staff lunchroom who is trying desperately to keep his composure, only to burst out with an involuntary guffaw when he comes upon Figure 3 of the clinical essay, which is a diagram showing which seats on the coaster car yielded the best results.

The paper concludes with the finding that the ride does indeed facilitate passing of the kidney stones in the model, and that riders in the hindmost car of the coaster enjoy a benefit of nearly 5 times greater than riders in the forward cars of the coaster. This is Figure 3 as it appeared in the journal article.

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