Did you know that people spend close to $4 billion dollars a year for treating and extracting kidney stones from their bodies? Well, families from East Lansing, Michigan use physics to get rid of their kidney stones, i.e. the centripetal force, often costing them nothing more than the wildest roller coaster ride in Disneyland or Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
1 out of 10 people are said to have kidney stones in their lives. The smaller ones usually pass out without any problem, but passing the bigger ones have often been compared to the pains of giving birth.
A urological surgeon named David Wartinger said that, over his years of experience in dealing with kidney stone ridden patients, he heard a few rumors that patients always immediately passed those small kidney stones right after they visited Disney theme parks.
Although, it is not something that was as prominent, one story inspired Dr. Wartinger to do more about it. The man that inspired him had gone on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland, after which he passed a small stone, after another ride, he passed out another and then another, and the process went as such.1
Now that got this attention, so Dr. Wartinger made a model kidney based on the three-time kidney stone passing patient, and printed it using a 3D printer. The silicone model was then filled with stones and urine (the doctor’s own) and he then took it on the roller coaster ride that was in everyone’s stories, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Orlando.
After getting permission from the Disneyland authorities to conduct this experiment, lucky for them the manager himself recently passed a kidney stone and was willing to help anyone with them, in whatever way he could.
So holding a backpack with the model kidney, their own pee and stones, Dr. Wartinger and his colleague Marc Mitchell reached the peak of the ride, holding the backpack between them so it experiences the ride as a person would.
The way they observed the kidney stone being passed was if it moved from the location it was lodged to the area where the kidney meets the ureters (where the urine passes from). As they both went on the rides again and again, they noticed how much of a difference it made overall and even depending on where you sat on the carriage for the ride.
From the results, they saw a 64% chance of a kidney stone being passed by someone who sat at the back of the carriage in a ride, while those in the front had a 17% chance of that.
Although these results were based on 60 rides of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride alone, Dr. Watinger said that this is backed up by the 200 kidney stones that have been passed by a number of riders on this ride.
However, a few factors that he said still need to be backed up are, that these results do not have to be limited to this ride alone, the kidney’s calyceal system varies from person to person.
What they can conclude is that taking a bunch of roller-coaster rides in a short amount of time could help pass smaller kidney stones or any sediment safely, before growing into something bigger that pose future threats.
Although there is still a pending clinical trial to be done with real kidneys for this research, Dr.Watinger said it would be pretty straight-forward, where an ultrasound will be taken of people with kidney-stones, before and after the rides to see the differences.
Meanwhile, he suggests those that think they have little kidney stones, of about 5 mm or so, to go for a number of roller-coaster rides to pass them out before they grow into something more chronic and obstructive.
Getting rid of the larger ones could cost you about $10,000 to break it up, then use little shock-waves to turn them into small pieces and dust that can eventually be passed out, but what happens in this procedure to those stones is almost equivalent to what a few roller coaster rides do too.
For those who are scared or dislike roller-coaster rides, more in-house roller-coaster mimicking machines can be made to help them pass the kidney stones clinically.
But, for those that love that adrenaline rush, their next stop is the nearest amusement park and getting a few turns on the wildest rides to pass that kidney stone out like a cowboy in the wild-west.
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