LiveBIG Staff, September 27, 2016

Prior to this week, if someone told us riding on a roller coaster would make it easier to pass a kidney stone, we?d have put that advice right up there with standing on your head being a cure for hiccups: sounds fun to try, but probably unlikely to deliver any measure of relief.

But if the work of Michigan State?s David Wartinger continues to withstand testing and study, we may see more doctors writing out a prescription for a trip on Big Thunder Mountain.

A professor emeritus in Michigan State?s Department of Osteopathic Surgical Specialties, Wartinger found the results of a pilot study and an expanded study confirmed some anecdotal stories he?d heard from patients: riding a roller coaster helped them pass kidney stones.

Wartinger?s testing procedures involved creating a replica kidney, filling it with a few kidney stones, strapping it into a backpack and taking it for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain 20 times.

?In the pilot study, sitting in the last car of the roller coaster showed about a 64 percent passage rate, while sitting in the first few cars only had a 16 percent success rate,? Wartinger said.


?In all, we used 174 kidney stones of varying shapes, sizes and weights to see if each model worked on the same ride and on two other roller coasters,? Wartinger said. ?Big Thunder Mountain was the only one that worked. We tried Space Mountain and Aerosmith?s Rock ?n? Roller Coaster and both failed.?

Wartinger says this, uh, procedure, will only work on stones of less than 4 millimeters. MSU has more details on his findings while Gizmodo talked with him about where the team wants to go next with the research. And for all the technical details, we point you to Wartinger and co-author Marc Mitchell?s published study "Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster."

Image of Big Thunder Mountain by HarshLight via Creative Commons