The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended a rechargeable wireless device to be fitted to patients with an overactive bladder.

The technology, dubbed Axonics sacral neuromodulation (SNM), simulates the sacral nerve with an electric current via an electrode (thin wire) and is inserted under the skin in the upper buttock.

NICE says that the electrode is attached to an implantable pulse generator which stimulates the nerves associated with bladder function, with the aim of the stimulation to make the bladder work in a more controllable way; a bit like a pacemaker for the heart.

The device would be an option for people with symptoms of overactive bladder who have not responded to conservative treatments or drug therapy, and has potential to save the NHS around £6,200 per patient assuming a 15-year life span.

Meindert Boysen, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Clinical trial evidence seen by our independent committee shows that Axonics can help improve quality of life for people with symptoms caused by an overactive bladder.

“This device will last longer than the current non-rechargeable system, resulting in a cost saving for the NHS after six years of use, and, importantly for patients, fewer replacement surgeries.”

The device is operated by a handheld remote control which activates the stimulator, adjusts the stimulation amplitude, and checks the battery status. A wireless charger, attachable to the skin over the implanted stimulator is used to charge the stimulator. It is claimed by the company that the battery needs a recharge every one to two weeks for 30 minutes to one hour.