What is Insulin Pump Therapy?
What is an Insulin Pump?
An insulin pump is a computerised, battery operated insulin delivery device consisting of:-
- the main pump unit (similar to a small mobile phone)
- a disposable insulin reservoir (the cartridge)
- a long, thin piece of tubing with a needle or cannula at one end (the infusion set)
A few insulin pumps, eg. the DANA Diabecare R, also have a separate remote control. (The DANA R also has an integrated blood glucose meter in the remote) It should be noted that the DANA diabacare R Insulin pump system is only available through the NHS please discuss the applicability of this treatment option with your diabetes care team.
How does it work?
To use the pump, the cartridge is filled with fast-acting insulin and fitted inside the pump. The needle or cannula is inserted under the skin and held in place with the adhesive patch which fixes to the surrounding skin.
The other end of the tube is connected to the pump which then delivers insulin through this infusion set according to its programming.
To replace “background” or basal insulin, the pump delivers tiny, precise doses at very frequent intervals. Basal insulin delivery rates (“basal rates”) are determined by you, the pump user, in consultation with your diabetes care team and can be set at different levels for different times of day to match with your body’s requirements.
To meet insulin needs around meals (and to correct high glucose levels), the pump can deliver a “bolus”. Bolus doses depend on several factors including:-
- the current blood glucose level
- the amount and type of food you intend to eat
- the amount of physical activity you expect to have within the next few hours
New pump users receive training and support both from their diabetes care team and from Advanced Therapeutics UK trainers to help them get to grips with managing their own insulin doses.
Although the pump does not measure blood glucose levels and produce insulin automatically – you have to test your own blood glucose and program the pump yourself – insulin pump therapy is the most natural form of insulin treatment available today.