Everybody hates speed bumps, but they do have their value as a safeguard against speeders in locations where high speeds are not safe. Now it seems they may also have unexpected value as a diagnostic medical tool.
Speed bumps as diagnostic tool?
For years anecdotal evidence has suggested that people who feel pain when going over a speed bump may well be suffering from acute appendicitis. Now clinical research supports the notion.
In the past, doctors would occasionally ask patients they suspected of having appendicitis if it hurts to go over a speed bump. While it was not based on scientific evidence, it did give diagnosticians a clue for further testing.
Hard to detect
Appendicitis is not an easily detected condition, and if misdiagnosed and left untreated it can lead to blood poisoning. Conversely, a misdiagnosis could lead to unnecessary appendectomies. According to the report, surgeons find a health appendix in as many as 40 percent of scheduled appendectomies.
Testing anecdotal evidence
Researchers at the University of Oxford and the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England decided to put the theory to the test. They found that, out of 64 patients suspected to have acute appendicitis, 54 felt pain when riding in a vehicle going over a speed bump. Subsequently, it was found that 33 of those had clinically-proven acute appendicitis. Seven of those who did not have appendicitis were found to have other abdominal conditions, such as diverticulitis.
While that does not add up to proof positive, it is apparently as accurate as other known diagnostic tools used by medical professionals.
According to the report, the “presence of pain while traveling over speed bumps was associated with an increased likelihood of acute appendicitis. As a diagnostic variable, it compared favorably with other features commonly used in clinical assessment. Asking about speed bumps may contribute to clinical assessment and could be useful in telephone assessment of patients.”
More useful for ruling out appendicitis
Since the “speed bump test” can also indicate other abdominal ailments, researchers say that it may be of more use as a method of ruling out acute appendicitis. If a patient has no pain when going over a speed bump on the way to the hospital, appendicitis can probably be ruled out. If there is pain, however, diagnosticians need to look deeper.
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