What are the Types of Insulin Pumps?

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Insulin pumps are used by people with diabetes in managing their blood glucose levels. A typical insulin pump imitates the function of the pancreas by providing the basal rate of insulin and is usually used before every meal and before bedtime. These pumps have been commercially available since 1979. They are known for being convenient, flexible and easy to use. There are different types of insulin pumps available which cater to the different needs of people with diabetes.

External Insulin Pump

The most common type of insulin pump is the external insulin pump. It is a portable device weighing three ounces and can be placed in the pocket or belt. It is attached to a thin and flexible plastic tubing that has a needle at its end. This needle is usually inserted in the patient’s skin close to the abdominal area. Depending on the program set on the pump, it can release doses of insulin before the patient takes a meal, or when the blood sugar of the patient becomes very high. Patients are usually taught how to use the external insulin pump, and are given instructions on how and when the infusion set should be changed. There are studies showing that with the use of insulin pumps, blood glucose control can be improved.

Patch Insulin Pumps

A more futuristic model of insulin pumps is the patch insulin pump variety, also called the tubeless insulin pump. This type of insulin pump is considered more convenient than the external insulin pump.

One example is the Omnipod from Insulet. The said device is made up of two parts - a Personal Diabetes Manager and a wireless insulin pump which is a lightweight and watertight device. The insulin pump is attached directly to the body while the Personal Diabetes Manager controls the delivery of insulin wirelessly and summarizes monitoring of the user’s blood glucose levels over a specific period of time. It also comes with a library of a thousand common foods to guide diabetics on the right diet for diabetes management and control.

Pros and Cons

These insulin pumps have their advantages and disadvantages. They are said to be portable and most diabetics find their use very convenient. These devices, however, do require some sort of maintenance. For instance, the pump and its battery life has to be regularly checked to make sure that the battery has not run out. There is also a risk of infection or irritation on the area where the tubing is inserted. Most doctors recommend that the site of insertion is changed every two days to lessen risks of irritation and infection. Likewise, most types of insulin pumps can be very costly, with prices going up as high as $6,000. It is, thus important for diabetics to ask if their insurance can cover the cost of such devices.


Insulin Pumps: https://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/i/insulinpumps.htm

Types of Insulin Pumps: https://www.diabetes-insulin-pump-therapy.com/types-of-insulin-pump.html

Insulin Delivery: https://www.lifeclinic.com/focus/diabetes/supply_syringes.asp#pumps