Dylan was sidelined last year with a painful kidney obstruction. Thanks to a new Levine Children’s urologist and robot-assisted surgery, he’s back in action.

Child Health | one month ago

Getting Dylan Back in Action with Expert Urology Care

Dylan was sidelined last year with a painful kidney obstruction. Thanks to a new Levine Children’s urologist and robot-assisted surgery, he’s back in action.

Running, biking, jumping, playing – if it’s an activity, you’d better believe 14-year-old Dylan Sitterud is doing it. (Bonus points if it’s outdoors.)

But that wasn’t the case when the teenager started complaining about back pain that would come and go. By the time the Sitteruds were referred to Mark Williams, MD, chief of pediatric urology at Levine Children’s, they’d ruled out everything from a pulled muscle to appendicitis.

Fortunately, Dr. Williams and the Levine Children’s Hospital team were able to quickly uncover the problem. A kidney ultrasound revealed Dylan’s right kidney was so backed up and enlarged his mom Carline says it looked like a bear claw. Dr. Williams diagnosed Dylan with uteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction, a condition that prevents the kidney from draining like it should and leads to blockage; similar to kidney stones, it can cause excruciating pain and discomfort.

For the Sitteruds, the diagnosis brought with it some bad news and some good news. The bad news was Dylan needed surgery to clear the obstruction.

And the good news? Dylan had the option to undergo a robot-assisted surgery, which would mean an easier, faster recovery, with less pain and scarring. On top of that, a pediatric urologist with vast experience in this exact procedure had just joined the Levine Children’s team.

Serendipitous timing

When she first met Dylan and his family, Alison Keenan, MD, a pediatric urologist at Levine Children’s, had just transferred from a hospital in the Midwest. Though she was new to Charlotte, she has years of experience with robotic dismembered pyeloplasty – the surgery Dylan underwent, which involves cutting out the blocked part of the kidney and sewing it back together.

The Sitteruds met Dr. Keenan the week before Dylan’s surgery, and if they had any concerns before then, she immediately put their minds at ease. Carline says Dr. Keenan not only answered their “millions of questions” flawlessly, but she also took the time to explain the procedure in detail, even drawing a picture of what she was going to do.

“Dr. Keenan gave us confidence she was going to take care of our son,” recalls Carline. “For something that was traumatic to Dylan and to us, she showed us a level of confidence we needed.”

Dylan’s surgery marked a milestone for kids of all ages with UPJ obstruction: It was the first robotic dismembered pyeloplasty performed at Levine Children’s Hospital – and in our region.

“We’re the only place in the region offering this,” says Dr. Keenan, who’s also an assistant professor of pediatric urology. “Adult-trained urologists might do this for an older teenager, but we can now offer it all the way from babies to young adults.”

Dylan went in for surgery at 7 a.m. Around 10 a.m., he was on the road to recovery. By the next day, he was home. And five days later, he was already getting back to his usual, active self.

Back to being Dylan

Since his surgery, Dylan is healed and pain-free, and he has a fully functioning kidney once again. Most importantly, he’s feeling like himself – which for this 14-year-old means being on-the-go, all the time.

“We can’t thank everyone enough – from the staff to the nurses to all the doctors, but mainly Dr. Keenan,” says Carline. In fact, Dr. Keenan called the Sitterud family a few days after Dylan’s surgery to check in. Carline adds, “She truly cares about her patients.”

As for Dr. Keenan, she hopes Dylan can move on from this experience. And thanks to a seamless robotic surgery, his only reminder will be a tiny, fading scar, as he enjoys life as a healthy teenager. (With plenty of running, biking, jumping and playing, of course.)