An insulin pump is an alternative way to deliver insulin to the body. Instead of periodic, manual injections of insulin with a syringe, an insulin pump is a device that holds and delivers a continuous flow (basal rate) of insulin to the body. The pump sends out the insulin through a short tube with a needle (cannula) at the endpoint that is inserted under the skin, usually in the abdomen. The cannula is changed every two or three days to prevent infection. Newer technology eliminates the tubing and attaches the pump directly to the skin.
Insulin pumps can be programmed to deliver a variety of prescribed basal rates to accommodate the needs and lifestyle of the person. Insulin can also be manually delivered from the pump in larger amounts (bolus doses) to cover meals or when additional insulin is needed. Insulin pumps run on batteries, are about the size of a small cell phone and are either clipped to a belt or carried in a pocket.
Many studies of people using insulin pumps have shown improved glucose management outcomes. Insulin pump therapy enhances some flexibility in lifestyle and is currently the closest technology we have to an artificial pancreas. But, it should be noted that use of an insulin pump still requires close attention to management. Therefore, it is not appropriate for every person.
Insulin Pump for Diabetes Mellitus. MedicineNet.com. Retrieved November 16, 2008. http://www.medicinenet.com/insulin_pump_for_diabetes_mellitus/article.htm