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Surgery gives local woman a miracle'

By Staff
REMOTE CONTROL DEVICE _ Maxine Howard of Toomsuba says InterStim Therapy has changed her life. An implant placed near her hip by Dr. Mark Phillips, a urologist, means the end of self-catheterization for Howard. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 9, 2002
Maxine Howard, a 44-year-old woman from Toomsuba, calls her recent surgery a miracle.
For about three years, Howard has had to catheterize herself four to six times a day because she suffers from urinary retention. It took up to 15 minutes to do each time.
Her condition kept her homebound, but those days are over.
Dr. Mark Phillips, a urologist with the Urology Clinic of Meridian, implanted a device similar to a pacemaker. The implant sends electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves to control urinary functions.
The procedure, known as InterStim Therapy, uses a device made by Medtronic, a medical technology company based in Minneapolis that also makes pacemakers.
The implant, about the size of a stop watch, is placed near the hip. Patients use a remote control device to adjust the electrical frequency of the implant, which can be used to treat non-obstructive urinary retention problems as well as urinary incontinence, or the inability to store urine.
Phillips has performed the surgery twice at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, and is the first in the state to do so.
He said the surgery is done often in other areas of the United States, and is covered by most insurance companies.
Howard said Phillips told her about the procedure about a month ago. Her only response was, "When can we do it?"
Howard first had to undergo what Phillips called a test simulation, which lasts about two weeks. In the simulation, electrodes are placed along the nerve and a device is used by the patient to determine if the actual implant would help.
The implant has to be replaced every seven years, the lifetime of the battery.
Howard's surgery was on April 29. She had to continue catheterization for a short period after the operation to allow swelling to go down, but her InterStim Therapy was turned on Tuesday.

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