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February 16, 2001

Insulin Pumps

Question from Coral Springs, Florida, USA:

My 13 year old daughter has decided that the pump might be the way to go. Each pump that we researched seems to do the same thing, same cost. Please advise.

Answer:

You should discuss the available insulin pumps directly with your diabetes team since their experience with one or another pump has a lot to do with potential problems or success. MiniMed has the largest USA experience including superb customer service, telephone backup and replacement record. Disetronic has mostly been a European based pump with good success in Europe. Disetronic recently began promoting their pumps in the USA, and they have a specific advantage being waterproof. Their track record has been very good so far, but no long-term US record. MiniMed is probably going to have its own waterproof pump in the next several months. Animas is the newest pump manufacturer, and there will probably be several others in the coming year. Animas also has a waterproof pump and is very easy to learn to program. This programming advantage is only an advantage for the first few weeks and then all of the pumps are not very difficult. Each of the three manufacturers has some pluses and minuses about their particular pumps including square wave boluses, alarms, size and waterproof-ness so the specifics of anyone’s needs require that these needs to discussed and addressed with the diabetes team involved quite openly.

Excellent pump resources for detailed reading include:

Insulin-Dependent Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Adults by Ragnar Hanas, M.D.
Teens Pumping It Up: Insulin Pump Therapy Guide for Adolescents by Elizabeth Boland, MSN, APRN, PNP, CDE.
Pumping Insulin by John Walsh, PA, CDE and Ruth Roberts, MA.

SB

[Editor’s comment: As you have found out, the choice of an insulin pump is really individual. However, as Dr Brink points out, your daughter’s diabetes team may have preferences, and, in addition, your health insurance may only cover certain brands of pumps.

SS]