Study shows speed bumps can help diagnose acute appendicitis

It's not foolproof, though
Dec 29, 2012


If you find yourself driving to the hospital emergency room because of a stabbing pain near your groin, it appears driving over a speed bump could help you--and the doctors--diagnose if you're suffering from acute appendicitis.

According to the results of a study conducted by medical professionals from the University of Oxford and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a pain associated with a speed bump "compared well to other diagnostic methods when dealing with appendicitis, either in terms of considering it or--with more accuracy--in ruling it out."

"It may sound odd, but asking patients whether their pain worsened going over speed bumps on their way to the hospital could help doctors in a diagnosis," said Dr. Helen Ashdown of the University of Oxford's department of primary care health sciences. "It turns out to be as good as many other ways of assessing people with suspected appendicitis."

Based on the study, when the bumps don’t induce a jolt of pain, doctors can rule out acute appendicitis more confidently. However, the pain sensitivity was also reportedly linked to abdominal problems such as a ruptured ovarian cyst, which means it isn't a "fail-safe diagnostic test."

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The study concludes that questioning patients about their sensitivity to speed bumps should form part of the routine assessment for patients with suspected appendicitis.

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It's safe to say then that we leave the diagnosis part to the medical professionals and that we don't start playing doctor with ourselves. A wrong diagnosis, like dismissing the pain as insignificant, could lead to blood poisoning or even death.

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