Laser Treatment Gives UAMS Patient Relief from Kidney Stones

By Yavonda Chase

“I’ve dealt with kidney stones for many years,” said the Little Rock man. “First they were pretty sporadic, and I was able to deal with them without incident.”

But in the past couple of years, passing the stones without medical help became a lot harder as the stones got larger, Hankins said.

“I had some significant kidney stones — 9-10 millimeters — which were excruciating. Kidney stones are so unpredictable because you never know when they’re going to pass and how long it will take. That unpredictability was a real challenge for me.”

Hankins said one weekend he was visiting his son at college and one of his stones made itself known, knocking him out of commission for half a day.

Ultimately, he reached out to Julie Riley, M.D., to get his life back.

Julie Riley, M.D.

Julie Riley, M.D.

Riley, an associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Urology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), specializes in complex kidney stone disease and ureteral reconstruction. As a fellowship-trained endourologist, she is skilled in the latest minimally invasive techniques for treating even the most complex stones.

Riley told Hankins about a procedure, ureteroscopy, in which a small telescope is inserted through the urethra and bladder and up the ureter and then a laser is used to shatter the stones into tiny pieces. Since Hankins had 14 to 15 stones in his two kidneys, Riley recommended ureteroscopy instead of lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to break up the stones.

“UAMS has cutting-edge laser technology that really allows us to offer this minimally invasive technique for stones that until recently would have required more invasive surgery,” she said.

Additionally, kidney stone treatment has evolved to include metabolic therapies to prevent the stones from reoccurring, she said.

“Making sure our patients don’t develop these stones again is a real game-changer,” she said.

For most people, dehydration is the number one cause of kidney stones, Riley said.

“I recommend my patients drink lots of fluids to prevent a reoccurrence of kidney stones,” she said. “There’s a lot of discussion out about what type of fluid is the best fluid. I think any fluid is good for the most part. So if you can drink, drink lots.”

Salt is also a factor in the formation of stones, so Riley recommends that patients put down the saltshaker.

“I tell my patients that if they can drink more fluids and cut down their salt intake, that’s really a big chunk of the battle,” she said.

For Hankins, he’s enjoying his life without the fear of kidney stones.

“I’m very grateful to Dr. Riley for suggesting this procedure,” he said. “It was different than anything I had heard of before, and it was a game-changer for me. I’m grateful to have UAMS physicians like Dr. Riley and the latest treatment options available here in Arkansas.”