Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Speed Bump Pain a Sign of Appendicitis

By Magdeline Lum

Appendicitis could be diagnosed by a patient’s pain when driving to hospital over speed bumps.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

There have long been anecdotal reports of a link between acute appendicitis and pain experienced when driving over speed bumps. Could it be used as a diagnostic tool? There has never been any evidence to support this until now.

A district general hospital in Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom was chosen as the location for a small prospective study. The researchers describe the roads of Buckinghamshire as “almost universally surfaced in tarmac and are smooth” – apart from speed bumps.

The patients involved were aged over 16 and had been referred to the on-call surgical team as part of their normal care by either a GP or an emergency room doctor with suspected appendicitis. The study took place over a 6-month period.

Patients were asked whether their pain increased or worsened when going over speed bumps on their way to the hospital. Of the 34 patients who eventually had surgery and were found to have a blocked appendix, 33 were “speed bump positive”. They had experienced a jarring pain when going over a speed bump.

There were also “speed bump positive” patients who did not have appendicitis. These patients were diagnosed with other abdominal problems, including a ruptured ovarian cyst and diverticulitis. This does not make speed bumps a reliable test for confirming appendicitis.

However, the evidence showed that speed bumps could be...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.