An insulin pump is a medical device for the administration of insulin in treating diabetes mellitus. It is made of a disposable reservoir for insulin, a battery-operated pump with a computer chip which controls the exact amount of insulin being delivered and disposable infusion set, including a cannula. The size of the pump is about the size of a standard communications beeper.
Insulin pump functions in the following way:
The soft cannula or plastic needle is inserted under the skin, usually on the abdomen. It must be changed every two days. With an infusion set (a thin plastic tube), cannula or needle is connected to the pump which continuously 24 hours a day deliver insulin. The amount of the insulin is programmed in a computer chip in the pump.
An infusion set can be disconnected from the pump during showering or swimming.
The most recent model of the pump does not require an infusion set because the reservoir is placed directly on the skin and a computer which programs the amount of insulin looks like a PDA device and it must be kept within a 6-foot range of the reservoir, for example in the pocket or in the purse.
Also, the recent pumps can be used in tandem with implantable glucose sensor which is wirelessly connected to a pager-sized device with a screen that displays the blood glucose reading and warnings if the blood sugar is dropping too quickly. The device must be kept near the sensor (few feet distance) to receive the information.
It is a goal in the future to make devices which continuously sense what the body needs and provide the appropriate dose of insulin without any involvement of the patient.