HealthONE - January 04, 2022

Dr. Marklyn Jones employed robotic technology and advanced modeling to plan and complete the highly successful tumor resection.

When Karen Stensland’s physician noted her elevated creatinine level, she wasn’t immediately concerned. The gastroenterologist had been monitoring her with regular blood work a few times a year to manage Crohn’s disease. The routine bloodwork included a measurement of creatinine levels, which help show how well her kidneys were functioning. “For some reason, this year he said, ‘your creatinine level has been in this range for quite a while, let’s send you to a kidney doctor to take a look at it,” Karen explains. She followed up with the kidney specialist, who ran imaging tests that revealed a large mass on her right kidney. “It was so unexpected. I had no symptoms, no pains… nothing,” Karen recalls.

The expert experts turn to

As she discussed treatment options with her specialist, he mentioned that a colleague of his was using an exciting new technology that would be a great fit for Karen’s treatment. The colleague, Marklyn Jones, is a urologist with Swedish Medical Center. Soon after, Karen traveled from her home in Monument, Colorado to Dr. Jones’ office in Denver to learn more.

“Dr. Jones was very comforting and gave us lots of information. I brought my husband, Erik, with me and he spent a lot of time with us,” Karen reports. “He actually drew a diagram of my internal organs. He showed us where I was going to have sutures and explained how the machine would work. He took his time with us. We never felt rushed at all.”

A promising new technology

The new technology Dr. Jones is using is a complement to robotic-assisted urologic surgery. “We are one of the only hospitals in the country to use this technology. It generates a 3D model of the patient’s kidney with the tumor, blood vessels and urine channels. It is a game changer for kidney surgeries,” Dr. Jones explains.

Prior to the surgery, Dr. Jones imported Karen’s imaging into the system, which generated a 3D model that is unique to Karen’s anatomy and tumor location. The surgical team then used the model to plan and guide the surgery. The result was an extremely precise and accurate procedure.

“Dr. Jones met with me in the hospital before the surgery and actually showed me the 3D model on his phone. The model allowed him to plan where to make incisions and all of that,” Karen recalls.

The procedure was done with robotic assistance, which allowed Dr. Jones to operate through several small incisions, instead of one larger incision. Using small instruments and cameras, he accessed the tumor and removed it. The model gave Dr. Jones a precise plan to employ and helped guide his movements within the body. This increased accuracy, while decreasing disruption to other internal structures. “By using this technology in concert with robotic technology, we can be extremely precise while operating through very small incisions. When we reduce the size of the incision [to as small as 5 millimeters: the size of a pencil’s eraser], we reduce the impact on the body overall,” Dr. Jones details. “Patients often experience less blood loss, fewer complications, less pain, shorter recoveries and smaller scars.”

Precise procedure, rapid recovery

Dr. Jones and his team removed Karen’s tumor, which was determined to be cancerous. However, because of the high level of precision the technology afforded, Dr. Jones was able to remove all the cancer, and maintain kidney function. “He told me that all the markers came back clean and he’s confident that he got it,” Karen reports. “I will have follow ups for a while, but no further treatment has been recommended at this time.” Dr. Jones adds, “Without a successful surgery, Karen would have required kidney dialysis if we were not able to save her one good kidney —the procedure’s success was extremely impactful.”

Karen, who is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a real estate transaction coordinator, and an adventurer can now add cancer warrior to her resume. Just a few months after her procedure, Karen and her husband will take their fifth wheel camper to enjoy the beach in Galveston, Texas for several months. “We love to travel and the beach in Galveston is beautiful. We’ll take day trips and go walk the beach,” Karen says. “That just starts our travel for the year. We’ll also go to Sturgis and different motorcycle events.” She knows that all this is possible because of the medical team who helped her overcome kidney cancer in just a few short months.

“I was just extremely happy with Dr. Jones and all his staff. Everyone at Swedish – all the staff, all the nurses—they made the entire ordeal a lot easier to handle. They were so wonderful to deal with.”

To learn more about Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Swedish Medical Center as well as robot-assisted urologic surgery and 3D modeling, visit our robotic surgery page.

About Marklyn Jones, MD

Marklyn Jones, MD, is the most experienced urologic minimally invasive surgeon in the Rocky Mountain region. He is the only living kidney donor surgeon in the Rocky Mountain region to offer the robotic-assisted laparoscopic technique to patients volunteering for a donor nephrectomy. Dr. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, cum laude, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Creighton University. During medical school, Dr. Jones was awarded with induction into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society. He completed his internship and residency training at the University of Minnesota where he was named chief resident for the department of urologic surgery. Dr. Jones also completed his fellowship training in advanced laparoscopy, robotic surgery and urologic oncology at the University of Minnesota. While performing his training at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Jones served as a clinical instructor, training urology residents and community urologists on the daVinci® surgical robot.

Dr. Jones provides advanced urologic care at Swedish Medical Center and serves as the primary living donor surgeon for the Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center transplant program. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Urological Association, Endourologic Society of America, Rocky Mountain Urological Society, Denver Medical Society and the Colorado Medical Society. He has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association. Dr. Jones dedicates his entire practice to robotic surgery of all types using the daVinci® robot and he has been providing minimally invasive surgical options to patients in the Rocky Mountain region since August of 2007.