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June 18, 2004

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from New York, USA:

Is there a way to monitor one's blood sugar without a finger stick?


As of June 2004, there are no devices that are FDA approved that can take the place of finger-stick blood glucose monitoring for making clinical decisions about diabetes management (e.g., adjusting insulin dose). There are two devices that offer continuous monitoring without a finger-stick, but both devices are invasive or semi-invasive:

The Medtronic MiniMed Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS), which uses an indwelling catheter probe much like an insulin pump infusion set, monitors interstitial fluid to determine a blood glucose equivalent for up to 72 hours. Patients using the CGMS are not yet permitted by the FDA from seeing the readings, however, and can only review the data after using the device.

The Cygnus GlucoWatch, a watch-like device that exerts an electrical current across the skin to extract interstitial fluid, from which is measures glucose levels. The GlucoWatch displays a blood glucose number and trend arrows to indicate whether the blood glucose level is increasing or decreasing, and can alarm when the data is outside of desired boundaries.

Newer continuous, semi-invasive devices are under development by many companies. One is before the FDA for marketing approval.