For Amy Krambeck, MD, growing up on her family’s farm in Missouri first ignited her passion for medicine. Now, her surgical skills are drawing people from all over the world to IU School of Medicine Department of Urology.
“Growing up on the farm, we did all the vet work and I liked working with my hands, so I knew I wanted to be a surgeon,” said Krambeck. She attended the University of Missouri—Columbia for her undergraduate and medical degrees, then completed a residency in urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2008, Krambeck came to IU School of Medicine for a fellowship focusing on endourology and kidney stones. She now serves as the director of that same fellowship.
“I went to medical school thinking I was going to be a general surgeon,” said Krambeck. “I rotated through urology just to get more surgery experience and I loved the urologists. They were so happy, they had so much fun at work and they seemed like they enjoyed their job. I thought, ‘these are the people for me. I totally fit in here,’ so I switched to urology.”
As a physician at IU Health Methodist Hospital, Krambeck specializes in two areas of urology and performs surgical procedures that people from all over the world travel to Indianapolis to have. One of those procedures is holmium laser enucleation of the prostate, or HoLEP.
“I call it the Cadillac of prostate surgery,” said Krambeck. “It’s a unique laser surgery for the prostate and it takes a long time to learn how to do it. It has excellent outcomes, short term and long term.”
Krambeck says the IU Health Methodist Hospital office performed almost 550 HoLEP procedures in 2017, which is more than any other hospital in the country.
“I don’t do any other prostate surgeries, because people come here specifically for that,” said Krambeck.
Despite performing so many HoLEP procedures, Krambeck says most patients see her for help with kidney stones. She teaches patients how to prevent stones through diet or medications, and performs surgeries remove the stones.
“Most patients come to see me for percutaneous nephrolithotomy. We call it ‘percs’ for short,” said Krambeck. “It’s a minimally-invasive procedure where a tract is created from the skin to the inside of the kidney using x ray or ultrasound, and then I’m able to break up and remove the stones in the kidney, and the patient has a small drain in the back that comes out the next day.”
Krambeck also works with urology residents and fellows to teach them how to perform the same groundbreaking procedures. She’s also doing research in hopes of discovering causes of kidney stones, finding ways to decrease instrument breakage during surgeries and learning how to limit narcotics after surgeries.
“We do a program here where we’re not prescribing narcotics after simple stone removal procedures or BPH surgeries,” said Krambeck. “We found that after just one month, we significantly decreased the number of narcotics within the community. These patients were not going to the ER or calling more. They just didn’t need the narcotics that we had been prescribing all along.”
In the future, Krambeck says she is looking forward to increasing the number of HOLEP procedures performed at IU Methodist, learning the true reason people form kidney stones and expanding the department.
“I just really find medicine fascinating,” said Krambeck, “because it’s a science, but there is a lot of art to it, and there are a lot of things that you can tinker with and try to improve.”