After hearing stories, from several patients, of passing a kidney stone after visiting an amusement park, two researchers from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine began to suspect a connection. And after one patient in particular reported passing a stone on each of three consecutive rides (i.e. 3 rides, 3 kidney stones passed), they knew they were on to something.
To test the assumption, the urologists used a 3D printer to create a life-size plastic replica of the branching interior of a human kidney into which they inserted three kidney stones, of the size that will generally pass on their own, along with human urine. Then, with permission from an amusement park official, they put the artificial kidney in a backpack and took it for a series of rides.
The results showed that the forces and vibrations encountered on the coaster did indeed cause the kidney stones to dislodge from the replica kidney. The optimal place to be was in the back of the coaster; 64% of the kidney stones passed during rides in the rear car, as compared to only about 17% passing after a single ride in the lead car.
Although this very preliminary study doesn’t prove that real kidneys with real stones will have the same results, coupled with the anecdotal evidence from patients, it is an intriguing possibility that should warrant further study.
In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns about kidney stones, contact the Urology Group of Princeton to schedule an appointment. The board certified physician/surgeons at the Urology Group are highly trained to evaluate your symptoms, perform applicable tests, and develop the proper treatment plan.