An insulin pump is a small, battery powered device that is worn outside of the body. It is attached anywhere you’d normally give an insulin injection.
Your pump only uses fast acting insulin, delivering it through a small tube (cannula), placed just under the skin.
You fill the pump reservoir with insulin and change your set every 2-3 days.
A pump is programmed initially based on your current dosing routine and your health care team determines these initial settings which will need to be confirmed & modified after starting pump therapy, and periodically afterwards.
Blood glucose levels must be monitored frequently when you are initially started on your pump.
Using your pump’s calculator feature helps you calculate your dose for food and corrections while keeping track of unused insulin.
Basal Insulin (background)
A pump will automatically deliver insulin incrementally, every few minutes, throughout the day. This continuous drip will replace your long-acting insulin.
The amount that drips in can be programmed to be more or less at different times of the day to meet your body’s changing needs (pattern).
Bolus Insulin (burst)
Think of a bolus like a shot of meal time or correction insulin.
It is the amount that you would take to eat or drink carbs and the extra you take to lower a blood glucose value that is above your target.
Tethered (Traditional) pumps
Traditional pumps have a rectangular case that holds the insulin in a reservoir and buttons to program/operate it.
From the reservoir, tubing is connected which then connects to an infusion set which is placed under your skin with the help of an “introducer needle.”
When the introducer needle is removed, a short, plastic tube called a cannula remains.
The infusion set has an adhesive that holds your cannula firmly in place.
One pump company offers a unique design in that it does not have tubing.
The reservoir is placed directly on the skin with adhesive and has a small cannula which is self-inserting.
The pump is controlled with a small hand held device.
Some insulin pumps are integrated with continuous glucose monitors and glucose data is received/viewed on the pump screen.
Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Pre Pump Education Packet