What They Do: Insulin pumps are devices that deliver insulin without the need for manual injections. They can administer both basal insulin and bolus (mealtime) insulin once users program the needed insulin dosing. Some new Medtronic systems can automatically suspend insulin dosing when glucose levels are low. Many pumps also come with built in bolus-calculators, which can reduce the hassle of manual insulin dose calculations. All pumps require the user to wear something directly on their body; and most require tubing, though the Insulet Omnipod pump does not.
What Supplies Do I Need?
In addition to the insulin itself, typical insulin pumps require three main components (all of which are connected to the body):
Inserted sub-cutaneous (beneath the skin) cannula – delivers insulin
Tubing – delivers insulin from the pump to the cannula
The Insulet OmniPod consists of a patch worn on the skin that administers insulin, plus a “Personal Diabetes Manager” device that the user uses to manage insulin dosing.
Choosing a Pump:
With multiple pumps available, it raises the question: “What pump to choose?” There is NO perfect pump, since all devices have benefits and drawbacks depending on your preferences. The table below summarizes our team’s experiences with each of the pumps available in the US; the links will take you to the diaTribe test drive.
Most Ideal For…
Upcoming Products to Watch Out For
Integrated with Dexcom, eliminating need to carry separate receiver
Interface requires a lot of button pushing
Dexcom users on a pump that don’t want to carry around the separate receiver
Pediatric approval (2015+)
Tubeless, discreet, relatively painless insertion
Very easy setup and pod changes
Wireless controller (PDM) with integrated meter
Lower upfront cost
PDM only works with Abbott FreeStyle strips; LifeScan Verio coming soon
New to pumping, very young people, highly active people
Those who don’t want tubing
Those desiring more discretion
PDM integrated with LifeScan Verio test strips (launching soon)
Updated touchscreen PDM with Bluetooth capabilities (launch in 2016+)
Integration with Dexcom’s Gen 5 mobile system (2016+)
Suspends insulin delivery when CGM reaches low threshold
Excellent integration with Bayer Contour Next Link meter
Enlite sensor is less accurate than Dexcom G4 Platinum
Those with hypoglycemia unawareness/ experienc-ing many lows at night
MiniMed 640G/Enlite 3 sensor (predictive low glucose suspend; launching soon in Europe, likely 2016+ in the US)
Roche Accu-Chek Spirit Combo
Pump commun-icates with meter, which doubles as pump controller
Pump screen is small
Set changes take a long time
Those who use a Roche meter
Pump compatible with pre-filled Novolog cartridges (European launch in 2015; US timing unknown)
Touchscreen, iPhone-like, highly intuitive interface
Highly custom-izable “personal profiles” for insulin delivery
Infusion set changes take a long time
Many confirmation screens and warning messages
Those desiring a pump that doesn’t look like a medical device
New to pumping
Integration with Dexcom G4 Platinum (FDA approval expected in 2015 or 2016)
Larger 480-unit version (2015)
TEST DRIVE: Tandem’s t:slim – Adam provides a long description of this innovative pump, which includes a touchscreen, a rechargeable battery, and highly-customizable profiles.
TEST DRIVE: Insulet’s Second Generation Omnipod – Adam and Kelly report on the advantages of the 2nd Generation Omnipod over the 1st Generation.
The Insulin Pump: Pick Six – A detailed pros and cons list of six different insulin pumps written by Gary Scheiner.
TEST DRIVE: Adam Tests the Medtronic Minimed 530G and the Enlite CGM – An in-depth analysis of the MiniMed 530G system, which uses a MiniMed insulin pump.
TEST DRIVE: Animas Vibe Brings Dexcom CGM Onto the Pump Screen – A look at the first insulin pump integrated with the Dexcom G4 Platinum CGM. Plus, a guide to choosing between insulin pumps!
Up Close with Medtronic’s New MiniMed 640G System in Europe – Exciting updates on Medtronic’s MiniMed 640G system and Enhanced Enlite CGM (“Enlite 2”) at this year’s ATTD Conference in Paris.