Dr. Melanie Ketchandji was interested in medicine and caring for others from a young age. Her sister has cerebral palsy, which sparked Dr. Ketchandji’s curiosity when she was young.
“I think the presence of that family member, the sister that always needed health care was a big driver. It got me intrigued about her condition,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “Why was she different, why did medicine not fix it?”
She and her family moved to the United States in 2001 after Dr. Ketchandji completed high school. She started pursuing a chemical engineering degree at the University of Oklahoma in Norman before meeting an adviser who recommended changing her degree to biomedical science. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Dr. Ketchandji attended the University of Texas (UT) at Galveston for medical school.
“During my second year, my uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he died six months later,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “He was diagnosed late. So that’s how this whole thing started, I started asking questions about that cancer.”
She attended the University of Washington for a fellowship, where she did prostate cancer research. After her research fellowship, Dr. Ketchandji returned to Texas for residency at the UT Health Sciences Center in Houston. She said she liked urology for the specialty's balance of patient care and procedural opportunities.
“When I went into med school, I thought about doing family medicine. I like the continuity of care we see with family medicine, taking care of the whole patient. But I realized I really liked doing procedures,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “What drew me to urology was the fact that there was a lot of surgery but there was also that continuity of care. I like seeing the results of my surgical interventions and building long-term relationships with patients.”
Dr. Ketchandji has a special interest in pelvic floor health for women, which includes pelvic floor reconstruction and urinary incontinence. Her office uses a procedure called InterStim to help women with overactive bladder regain bladder control.
InterStim Therapy stimulates the sacral nerves, located near the tailbone, which control the bladder. The stimulation causes the bladder to communicate with the brain for increased bladder control. This therapy is a reversible treatment and can be discontinued at any time by turning off or removing the device.
“It helps women with frequency, urgency and urge-related incontinence. It can cut the frequency of urination from 15 to 20 times a day to seven to eight times a day,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “It’s really about getting those symptoms under control to give those women their lives back.”
Dr. Ketchandji said Utica Park Clinic has given her the flexibility to shape her practice into what she wants it to be for her patients. She said she carved out a niche that lets her best help women specifically.
“I don’t think women’s health is given enough attention. It’s amazing how many women come in and think their issues are just part of aging,” said Dr. Ketchandji. “Sometimes, we underestimate the role of quality of life. There’s healthspan and lifespan; we focus a lot on lifespan but not enough on healthspan. What’s the point of living if you’re not really living?”
Dr. Ketchandji says the constant support from her husband and family allows her to put everything she can into her practice and her patients.
“My family is an important part of me being able to serve as well as I do,” said Dr. Ketchandji.
Click here to learn more about Utica Park Clinic’s urology services.