Citizen science isn’t limited to the nerd community. When medical professionals get a crazy idea, their options include filling out endless paperwork for human consent forms and grant applications, or hacking something together themselves. When [David Wartinger] noticed that far too many of his patients passed kidney stones while on vacation, riding rollercoasters, he had to test it out.
Without the benefit of his own kidney stones, he did the next best thing: 3D printed a model kidney, collected some urine, and tossed a few stones that he’d collected from patients into the trap. Then he and a colleague rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad sixty times, holding the model in a backpack at kidney height.
The results? Sitting in the car at the back of the train, they passed the stones 64% of the time. Sitting in the front only managed to shake 17% of the stones free. That was enough data to get a paper out, and presumably to never want to see a roller coaster again. But science is science: [Dr. Wartinger] has since run more than 200 “stone rides”.
We think this is awesome. [Dr. Wartinger] is now going through all of the requisite rigmarole for human trials. But if you’ve got small kidney stones (under 5 mm), and you don’t hate roller coasters, you’ve got basically nothing to lose. Except maybe your lunch.