back to article Disney rollercoaster helps pop out kidney stones

A study from Michigan State University has found that a ride on a rollercoaster is just the ticket for those needing help in passing a kidney stone. More specifically, you need to get yourself to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World Florida. And you need to sit at the back. To verify their findings, the doctors …

  1. Stevie


    So now we know what that damp spot is on the seat.

  2. lglethal Silver badge

    Wait does this mean I can get a trip to Disneyland paid for by my medical insurance now? What do you mean I need to have Kidney Stones first? Havent you heard of preventative medicine before?

  3. frank ly

    Horrible fascination

    "One lucky punter passed a stone three times after three consecutive rides on Big Thunder."

    Ok, as long as it wasn't the same one going up and down the tubes. Can anyone tell us what it feels like?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Horrible fascination

      Can anyone tell us what it feels like?

      I have had to take someone to the hospital as a result of passing a stone out. The executive summary is: you _REALLY_ do not want to know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Horrible fascination

        I *had* to go to the hospital because of the pain associated with passing a kidney stone. I was able to catch it in a plastic cup it and inspect it under a magnifying glass. Looked like the nutsack of these aliens Sigourney Weaver was fighting some years ago -- lots of spikes and jagged edges.

        My insurance payed for the night stay, but I had to share the room with another patient, who brought his own radio to listen to religious broadcasts. I think that was done to make me understand that the pain could, indeed, get worse.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Horrible fascination

        The executive summary is: you _REALLY_ do not want to know.

        Amen to that. I count kidney stones and appendicitis as the most painful things I have experienced, and that list of experiences includes such fun stuff as dislocating my arm, breaking it in 4 places and having most of the muscles stripped off of it (velocity and gravity don't mix).

        It friggin' hurts in a place you can't reach and cannot control. I'm pretty good at controlling pain until I have time to pay attention to it (don't ask), but that won't work with kidney stones - oh no. Trust me, you won't ignore that one. IMHO it's harder to handle than the pain of acute appendicitis, although both will make you very aware of the state of London's roads when you're driven to the hospital. You will feel every little bump, and potholes are murder.

        1. Tom Melly

          Re: Horrible fascination

          I've had both too! What fun! For the record, the appendicitis was horrible, but for shear, focussed pain, the kidney stones won hands down.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Horrible fascination

            I've had them on 2 separate occasions and can guarantee that a roller coaster would not have helped me passing them. The first one was 14mm in diameter and required sonic pulses through the kidney to break it up. The second was 18mm and required surgery to cut it up and pull out the pieces. Magically, they did this without cutting me open. (You can use your imagination but I simply refer to it as Pee-hole Surgery.....)

            1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: Horrible fascination

              > Magically, they did this without cutting me open. (You can use your imagination but I simply refer to it as Pee-hole Surgery.....)

              Ah, I like that name.

              When I had to have a stone taken out, I'd have people asking me what seem pretty silly questions - one asked if they wen't down my throat to get to it ! Once I start with an explanation of why there's only one route in, there seem to be a lot of legs crossed :-)

              As to what a kidney stone feels like ....

              I didn't pass mine, and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. But having the stone, I would describe the pain as like someone having crept up from behind, stabbed you with a blunt screwdriver and is twisting it around. Meanwhile, someone else has lassood one of your nuts and is swinging off it. All I can say is, the IV paracetamol when I got admitted in A&E was a welcome relief.

              Now, I mentioned I had surgery - pee-hole surgery - to get it out. After they'd taken it out, as a day case but kept in overnight, the day case unit and ward failed to properly communicate. So the day case unit send me "out" with some pain relief, the ward didn't give it to me. The first time going to the loo after pee-hole surgery is ... "eye watering". It just isn't describable, and I imagine the aftermath of passing a stone is similar.

              People in the know kept saying that it's worse than childbirth.

              If it could be induced on demand, a kidney stone would make an excellent torture.

              As an aside, according to the CAA, the peak times for recurrence is after 2 years and 7 years - that's when they require re-examination to confirm absence of any further stones for a pilot's medical.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Horrible fascination

          Have passed kidney stone, have had a horse rear up and flip over on me, have had upper arm bone break, ankle break, and appendicitis. Appendicitis was the easiest, and by far the kidney stone was the worst. Would take the horse every day for a week before another kidney stone. And I am female, so a shorter path, can't imagine what it would be for a guy.

          1. Tom Melly

            Re: Horrible fascination

            Just out of curiosity, and if applicable, how did it compare with child-birth?

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: "as long as it wasn't the same one"

      Pretty similar to my first thought; I think the correct English would be "One lucky punter passed three stones; one after each of three consecutive rides on Big Thunder", but I'm ready to be corrected if someone thinks there's a better way to phrase it.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: "as long as it wasn't the same one"

        "One lucky punter passed a stone after each of three consecutive rides on Big Thunder".

        There. Fixed it for you :-)

        1. Vinyl-Junkie

          Re: "as long as it wasn't the same one"

          Indeed, meaning is clear and it's more concisely stated than my version.

    3. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Horrible fascination

      > Can anyone tell us what it feels like?

      This is the internet. Look hard enough and you're bound to find any number of fetish sites dedicated to the recreational kidney stone experience - no doubt with detailed instructions on how to keep the same one going 'up and down the tubes'.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Horrible fascination

      Believe me, you do *not* want to know what it feels like. It's excruciating*.

      * Not speaking from personal experience :-)

    5. Tom Melly

      Re: Horrible fascination

      You're walking down the street, and suddenly, out of nowhere, an invisible man drives a rusting scaffold through your lower back. They then rotate it back and forth, with the odd wrenching twist for good measure.

      Not that surprised that the roller-coaster works. The old-fashioned cure was to ride a horse - "the riding cure" - until it passed. For myself, I've had one relapse since, and I jogged on the spot until it was light enough to jog to A&E for a shot of intravenous paracetamol*. So, yeah, jogging helps. On the other hand, if it's your first kidney stone, you just assume that you're dying, and jogging is not really at the forefront of your mind.

      * if you are passing a kidney stone, you WILL look like a drug addict and the pain is pretty much the only obvious symptom, so they will offer IV paracetamol to rule out the smack-heads. And it's surprisingly awesome - the pain just melts away.

    6. Shady

      Re: Horrible fascination

      The one and only time I passed a stone, I blacked out before I even hit the floor. Like, lights out instant. I was only out for a few seconds and when I came to I dragged myself home (only a hundred yards away) and called 999, having convinced myself I'd been shot, despite there being no blood. I've broken every bone in my left foot, my right kneecap, my left arm (multiple fractures between elbow and wrist) and right arm (simple fracture), ripped the muscles away from my larynx, all in different accidents (I'm a bit clumsy) and was dosed up on morphine after a dalliance with diabetic ketoacidosis - none of which hurt as much as that stone. Luckily, after a few hours I was left with dull (if extremely severe) ache which ebbed away after a few days.

    7. This post has been deleted by its author

    8. More Jam

      Re: Horrible fascination

      The only reliable way to find out is to experience it yourself. Here are some tips:

      Don't drink a lot, especially not water. You want your pee always to be bright yellow. This lets the stones get nice and big before they begin their journey down to the bladder.

      Make sure you get lots of calcium, more than your body really needs. And since calcium oxalate is the most common type of stone, go for that and eat lots of foods that are rich in oxalates: tea, chocolate, nuts, etc.

      Keep your magnesium intake down, since it tends to lower calcium levels in the body. As a bonus you can enjoy worse sleep and possibly muscle cramps.

      And needless to say, avoid roller coasters or even gentler things like running or walking.

      Or if you decide that kidney stones are not for you after all, just reverse all the previous advice.

    9. Juan Inamillion

      Re: Horrible fascination

      I've never known such excruciating or debilitating pain. And apparently mine wasn't that big - about 3mm according to the scan. A client of mine is a State Registered Nurse and she explained in GREAT detail about the process of passing a stone. First you start with a stone that, in my case, is 3mm. Then you send it down a long tube that's only 1mm wide by peristalsis...

      I was hesitant about using 'giving birth' as a comparison but she said yes, that's not far off (different result - obvs)

  4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Prior Art

    Lazarus Long used a localised gravity generator to assist in childbirth. Presumably it would also work in kidney stones.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an alternative to surgical amputation...

    you can visit one of these superb Merlin Entertainment run establishments...

    1. David Neil

      Re: As an alternative to surgical amputation...

      Costs an arm and a leg though so you may need to go private

  6. Blofeld's Cat

    Subhead ...

    "We're not even taking the piss"

    But are you taking the Mickey?

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Subhead ...

      i wish someone would. i fucking hate that mouse.

      1. Alistair

        Re: Subhead ...

        @ pyschonaut

        Don't hate the mouse. Hate what his owners did to the law.

        1. Turnip McFondleballs

          Re: Subhead ...

          <i>Don't hate the mouse. Hate what his owners did to the law.</i>

          Fair play, but the mouse is also an annoying bastard in his own right.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Subhead ...

      Disney Land:

      What happens when a mouse builds a human trap.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Disney's marketing department is going to have a field day with middle-aged attendance

    Get stoned and go to Disneyworld?

  8. x 7

    Do you really want to put a patient through that pain while on a ride? The prospect of someone freaking out/standing up/trying to get out/passing out is just too high.

    Has anyone tried similar tests on "The Big One" in Blackpool

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Wasn't there some research about roller coasters and endorphins release recently? I know they stimulate adrenalin and other "fight or flight" systems. A temporary pain block would be useful in such fight to survive situations.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      ""The Big One" in Blackpool

      I'm not in Blackpool, but thank you anyway for the name check (although how you know my nickname amongst the ladies is a mystery!)

      Ifangyou, I'll be here all week.

  9. x 7

    "Journal of the American Osteopathic Association."??????

    The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association seems a strange place to publish information regarding renal / urinary disease.

    In the UK Osteopathy is regarded as not much more "real" than Homeopathy or Crystallography. How reputable is that magazine? Is it peer-reviewed by mainstream medical experts?

    1. nsld

      Re: "Journal of the American Osteopathic Association."??????

      I think you are confusing Chiropractors with Osteopaths.

      1. x 7

        Re: "Journal of the American Osteopathic Association."??????

        "I think you are confusing Chiropractors with Osteopaths."

        In the UK most of conventional medicine treats both with equal antipathy

  10. fandom

    Looks like some doctor really wanted to take the Ig noble price home.

  11. O RLY

    Sounds like Ig Nobel prize material!

    This is exactly the sort of science the Igs would reward.

    This year's Ig Nobel recipients won 10 trillion dollars (Zimbabwe dollars). Among the winners were Volkswagen, who won the Chemistry prize "for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.", and the Canadian and US team who won the Peace prize for the study "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got 'em

    Passed about eight of them so far in my lifetime, with (unfortunately) more to come. Not a fun experience at all, but once you've passed a few you get used to the symptoms and you just ride it out as there's really not much they can do to help you, other than pump you full of fluids which you can do yourself.

    Next time it happens I guess I'll have to find the nearest coaster and give it a try. Or just jump up and down a lot.

    1. Tom Melly

      Re: I've got 'em

      Jogging on the spot (or to A&E) works for me.

  13. Sargs

    I recommend Blackpool pleasure beach's "Big One" rollercoaster as a very effective nasal decongestant. After the big drop and pull-out, I thought I'd had a stroke and was bleeding out through my nose. That was snot the case.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shaken not stirred

    There are stimulators that can put you through the paces without taking up acres of land or require decent weather. Bonus would be medical assistance within arms reach or building in diagnostic monitoring equipment. Just need enough clearance to allow free movement of these souped up cherry pickers.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Shaken not stirred

      I suspect the operative effect is the increased (and maybe decreased) Gs on the ride, the bit that no current simularor can manage.

  15. KBeee Silver badge

    Wasn't "The Big Thing" for kidney stones a few years ago being put in a bath of water and sonic shocks used to break them up? Couldn't they combine the 2, and fit baths to rollercoasters?

    1. W4YBO


      Lithotripsy is the most common treatment for stones. But remember, water weighs 2.2 pounds per quart (1kg/liter).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally an argument ..

    .. to borrow a powerful vibrator.

    I'll go and hide now..

  17. Chris Tierney

    health Hazards

    Do not ride

    During Pregnancy

    If you've have Heart, back, or neck trouble

    High blood pressure

    Casts or braces that restrict movement or may interfere with the ride's restraint systems

    Motion sickness or inner ear infections


    Excessive height or other body proportions that could interfere with safety restraints

    Bodily control issues that may prevent a rider from properly bracing themselves within the ride unit

    Do ride

    If you suffer from Kidney Stones

    1. earl grey

      Re: health Hazards

      other body proportions

      Yeah, never could get that belt on right...

  18. Herby

    So, that's how...

    You score a free trip to Disneyland (yes, there is one on the left coast).

    Yes, sir it was a medical necessity.

    Problems? The time it takes from symptoms to going on the ride may be way too long.

    I've only seen stones taken out surgically. My dad had a whole bunch taken out. They aren't small and I can see the pain involved in passing them. Not comfy AT ALL. The stones he had were in the 5-8 mm range. He was given them as a souvenir.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The cast was then placed into a silicon block and removed."


    A solid 3D model was made of the interior of the hollow bits viz their "negative space". Then that model was coated with liquid silicone rubber compound. When it had set - the solid 3D model core was removed. That left a block of silicone rubber with the correct passages inside it.

  20. earl grey

    Can't say about the stones

    But I will vouch for burst appendix as very painful. Thankfully I could only do that once.

    1. x 7

      Re: Can't say about the stones

      "But I will vouch for burst appendix as very painful. Thankfully I could only do that once."

      But the morphine while waiting for the operation was fun......But you're right I wouldn't want to do that again

  21. Johnny Canuck

    Did they have to...

    use real urine in the test?

    1. Fungus Bob

      Re: Did they have to...

      It's sterile. And Patches O’Houlihan likes the taste.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did they have to...

        To be pedantic, urine is *not* sterile.

        It is generally safe for you *only* because there is nothing there that was not already in your body to begin with. ['Generally' because some toxins/harmful agents can be excreted in the urine and any re-introduction to the body would be by definition toxic/harmful.]

        It obviously gets 'interesting' if the urine is someone elses :)

        Although the risks should be minimal if the people involved are healthy and not taking anything that would be considered toxic or harmful that could be excreted in the urine.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't know they were called calculi.

    #Desperately trying to integrate a pun into this post. Don't know if it will make a differential...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      You only had partial success.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I bet you could reproduce the ride on those high G's simulators instead of going to Disney. Add a vibration to the chair at some specific frequency...

  24. Ainsleyjohn422

    Minerals and salts which are available in our pee once in a while stick together in a few people and afterward form into little kidney stones.

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