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October 5, 2004

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Redlands, California, USA:

I was told by a surgeon to check glucose levels in the back area because there are fewer nerves for pain there. The ends of the fingers are sensitive and over time (my grandchild is only three years old), the nerves and finger tips could become calloused and numb. Also, the feet/toes could present many problems over time. Is there a most accurate area of the body for the testing? Is there a different reading when using the back as opposed to other parts?

Answer:

I have never heard of anyone using the back to check blood glucose readings. There are now meters/gadgets that allow readings to be taken from the back of the arm or, I suppose, other areas. The only caveat is that it is recognized that sites other than the finger tips, which have a very good blood supply, tend to read falsely high in hypoglycemic situations.

KJR
Additional comments from Dr. Alan Schorr:

The fingers are still generally recognized as being the most accurate. Alternative sites are satisfactory, if there are no wide variations in the glucose levels, either high or low. As indicated previously, if the glucoses or symptoms indicate either very high or low, then one must check the finger area to determine accuracy.

I have one individual who uses his legs and arms for glucose monitoring, but I do see any reason why the back cannot be used, other than logistics. One must compare, initially, that reading with a traditional finger glucose to determine a difference, if any.

ABS

[Editor’s comment: Please see our web page on Alternate Site Testing.

BH]