Tuesday 16 January 2018

Speed bumps 'can diagnose acute appendicitis'

Speed bumps are good at identifying patients with acute appendicitis.
Speed bumps are good at identifying patients with acute appendicitis.

Speed bumps are widely regarded as a pain, so it may come as no surprise that they can be used to diagnose acute appendicitis.

The British scientists who made the discovery have been recognised in this year's Ig Nobel awards, presented for achievements that make people "laugh, then think".

Dr Helen Ashdown, from Oxford University, and her team showed that a yelp of pain as a patient was being driven over speed bumps was indicative of acute appendicitis.

The speed bump test picked up 97% of people with the condition, but was less good at avoiding "false positive" identification of those who were free of the complaint.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers concluded: "Presence of pain while travelling over speed bumps was associated with an increased likelihood of acute appendicitis.

"As a diagnostic variable, it compared favourably with other features commonly used in clinical assessment ..

"Speed bumps may have a useful alternative benefit in the diagnosis of acute appendicitis."

The Ig Nobel awards, from the spoof scientific journal Annals of Improbable Research, were presented at a ceremony at Harvard University in the US last night.

They are intended to parody the Nobel prizes due to be announced next month.

Other Ig Nobels were awarded for studies fitting chickens with prosthetic "dinosaur tails", looking at the plausibility of a Moroccan emperor fathering 888 children, and discovering the most painful bee sting points on the body.

Press Association

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