Reel Doctor Talk

Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy  . . . ride?

by Smitha R. Chadaga MD


I’m a huge Disney fan.  I’ve mentioned before how as an adult I tried to attend the Jedi Academy at Disneyland.  As a parent it was beyond amazing taking my children to Disneyland and watching them experience everything.  Not to mention the fact that we love Disney films like Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6.  And now I have reason to love it as a doctor because going to Disney World can help you pass kidney stones!  What???


Kidney stones form when there are high levels of minerals and salt in the urine.  They usually form in the kidney and start small but can grow in size.  Once formed they can travel to any part of the urinary system and can be seen in the kidney, ureter or bladder.  Kidney stones can cause severe pain, blood in the urine and vomiting.  The symptoms are more pronounced when the stone is traveling through the urinary system, especially when it is in the ureter. For the most part kidney stones don’t cause any permanent damage but if the stone blocks any part of the track it can cause complications.


Once a stone starts causing symptoms there are a few ways to treat it.  If the stone is small and the symptoms are mild it is often left to pass on its own with the help of hydration, pain control and medication to help the urinary system relax. If the stone is large, causing a blockage, causing an infection or affecting kidney function then surgery may be required to treat it.


And this is where roller-coaster come into play.  Specifically if you ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Space Mountain in Disney World. Scientists created a kidney stone model, placed it into a back pack and took it on 60 roller-coaster rides.  They found that for small kidney stones a ride in the rear of a roller-coaster can help with passage of the stone.


Now this is not exactly ready for prime time.  But if only Joey knew this when he had kidney stones.