What Is Insulin Pump Therapy?

An insulin pump is a small device about the size of a small cell phone that is worn externally and can be discreetly clipped to your belt, slipped into a pocket, or hidden under your clothes. It delivers precise doses of rapid-acting insulin to closely match your body’s needs:

  • Small amounts of insulin delivered continuously (24/7) for normal functions of the body (not including food). This replaces your long-acting insulin.
  • Additional insulin you program “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct a high blood sugar.
  • Basal Rate: Small amounts of insulin delivered continuously (24/7) for normal functions of the body (not including food). This replaces your long-acting insulin.
  • Bolus Dose: Additional insulin you program “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct a high blood sugar. Insulin pumps have a Bolus Wizard that help you calculate your bolus amount based on settings that are determined by your healthcare professional.
What is Insulin Pump Therapy?
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How Does Insulin Pump Therapy Work?

  1. Insulin pump
  2. Flexible tubing delivers insulin from the pump reservoir to the infusion set
  3. A tiny tube called a cannula is inserted under your skin to deliver insulin
  4. Insulin in the blood

An insulin pump holds a cartridge (reservoir) of rapid-acting insulin that delivers the insulin through an infusion set. The infusion set consists of tubing that connects to the reservoir at one end. At the other end is an even smaller tube (about the length of your fingernail), called the cannula. The cannula is inserted under the skin with a small needle that is removed once the cannula is inserted. Before starting use of an insulin pump, you will need your setting prescribed by your physician and training by an appropriate healthcare professional.

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Components of Insulin Pump Therapy

  1. Insulin Pump

    A small medical device that is made out of a durable material that has:

    • Buttons to program your insulin
    • LCD screen to show what you are programming
    • Battery compartment to hold 1 AAA alkaline battery
    • Reservoir compartment that holds insulin
  2. Reservoir

    plastic cartridge that holds the insulin that is locked into the insulin pump. It comes with a transfer guard (blue piece at the top) that assists with pulling the insulin from a vial into the reservoir. A reservoir can hold up to 300 units of insulin and is changed every two to three days.

  3. Infusion Set

    An infusion set includes a thin tube that goes from the reservoir to the infusion site on your body. The cannula is inserted with a small needle that is removed after it is in place. It goes into sites (areas) on your body similar to where you give insulin injections. The infusion set is changed every two to three days.

  4. Infusion Set Insertion Device

    An infusion set is placed into the insertion device and with a push of a button the infusion set is inserted quickly and easily.

Benefits of Insulin Pump Therapy

Insulin pump therapy provides more flexibility for your lifestyle while giving you greater control of your diabetes.

  • More flexibility
    Since the insulin pump uses only more predictable rapid-acting insulin, you will not need to follow a strict schedule for eating, activity, and insulin injections. You can eat when you are hungry, delay a meal if you want, even broaden your food choices. If you do activities that lower your blood sugar such as riding your bike, playing with your kids, or gardening, you can reduce your basal rate so that your blood sugar does not drop too low. If you are sick or have an infection and tend to have an increase in your blood sugar, you can increase your basal rate so that your blood sugar does not go up too high. You can also change your meal bolus based on the foods you choose to eat.
  • Fewer injections
    With multiple daily injections, you can give yourself at least 120 injections per month. With insulin pump therapy, you only have to change your infusion set 12 times per month.
  • Tighter control, fewer long-term complications
    With more precise insulin delivery, you can also gain better control of your diabetes. With proper insulin pump use, you can be four times more likely to achieve your target A1C and potentially reduce your low blood sugars by 84%. Since insulin pump therapy can help you achieve better control, you can reduce long-term complications of diabetes such as eye, heart, kidney, and nerve damage.1, 2, 3
  • Better predictability
    Insulin pump therapy provides more predictability in the way insulin works in your body. Traditional, long-acting insulin can “pool” under the skin, resulting in uneven absorption rates causing unpredictable lows and highs. Insulin pumps use only rapid-acting insulin, which is absorbed with more predictability so you can deliver smaller, more precise doses of insulin when that’s all your body needs.4
Benefits of Insulin Pump Therapy

Is Insulin Pump Therapy Right for Me?

If you or a person you are caring for has diabetes and uses insulin (Type 1, Type 2, gestational, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults), an insulin pump might be the right choice. People can benefit from an insulin pump who want to:5

  • Increase flexibility in food choices, eating schedules, and activities
  • Reduce the amount of injections
  • Lower your A1C level
  • Reduce hypoglycemic events (low blood sugars)
  • Gain tight control before and during pregnancy
  • Help with dawn phenomenon (high blood sugars in the early morning)
  • Help with delayed digestion (gastroparesis)
Featured Customer Stories
  1. Doyle EA, Weinzimer, Steffen AT, Ahern JAH, Vincent M, Tamborlane WV. A randomized prospective trial comparing the efficacy of insulin pump therapy with multiple daily injections using insulin glargine. Diabetes Care. 2004;27(7):1554-1558.
  2. Bode BW, Steed RD, Davidson PC. Reduction in severe hypoglycemia with long-term continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion in Type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1996;19:324-327.
  3. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial Research Group. The effect of intensive treatment of diabetes on the development and progression of long-term complications in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. NEJM.1993;329:977-986.
  4. Lauritzen T., Pramming S., Deckert T., Binder C. Pharmacokinetics of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion. Diabetologia. 1983;24(5):326-329
  5. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the management of diabetes mellitus. AACE Diabetes Mellitus Clinical Practice Guidelines Task Force. Endocr Pract. 2007;13(suppl 1):1-68.