Diabetes Forecast

2012 Infusion Sets

By Tracey Neithercott
Consumer Guide Charts

To get insulin from your pump into your body, you'll need an infusion set. (That is, unless you're using the OmniPod, which requires no tubing.) Insulin snakes through tubing from the pump to a needle or flexible cannula that you keep under your skin for two or three days. Every few days, you'll insert a new infusion set in a different part of your body to avoid irritation and maintain good insulin absorption.

All infusion sets are similar, but they may not all work equally well for you. Before you buy, ask yourself the following questions:

Which pumps does the infusion set work with?
Most pumps have a Luer-lock system to attach the tubing to the pump and seal the connection. These pumps work with the majority of infusion sets, which means you don't have to stick to those made by your pump's manufacturer. That's good news: Other infusion sets might be less expensive than those that come from the same company as your pump, and if you become irritated by one infusion set's adhesive, you can try a different brand.

The MiniMed Real-Time Revel from Medtronic and the Dana Diabecare IIS from Sooil, however, use their own sets. With the Revel, if you use a Fifty50 Medical insulin reservoir, it's compatible with Luer-lock sets.

Does it include an insertion device?
You'll insert some sets by hand (by sliding the needle under the skin and fixing it in place with the adhesive); others come with insertion devices. Insertion devices are a boon for people with needle anxiety and those with dexterity problems. They allow one-handed insertion even in difficult-to-reach areas of the body; with the push of a button, the needle is in place.

Does the infusion set use a plastic cannula or a needle?
Most people favor flexible cannulas over metal needles, but it's a matter of what you find most comfortable. For infusion sets that use a needle, you'll insert it under the skin and keep it there for two or three days, until it's time to rotate your infusion site. With flexible cannulas, a needle guides the cannula under the skin and is then removed. The cannula remains, fixed to the body with adhesive for two to three days. Your health care provider can help you determine the needle or cannula length, gauge (how thick it is), and angle that will best deliver insulin to your body. A very thin person may need a short, angled needle or cannula to avoid inserting into muscle. But most other people will do fine with a straight, longer needle or cannula.

How long is the tubing?
Most infusion sets—though not all—work with more than one tubing length. Whether you'll need something 12 inches long or 43 inches long, or somewhere in between, depends on your height and your infusion site, which might be on the abdomen but could also be on the thighs, lower back, buttocks, or the backs of the arms.

Does the tubing disconnect at the site or away from the site?
Because you won't want to remove your entire infusion set every time you bathe or do something that has the potential to rip the set from your skin (think wrestling), the tubing is detachable. You can disconnect the tubing either at the site or away from it, and since each type delivers insulin equally well, which you choose is a matter of taste. When tubing detaches at the infusion site, only the needle or cannula (the plastic opening that connects to the tubing) and the adhesive remain. People with dexterity problems or shaky hands often opt for the away-from-site option because there's less chance of tugging the needle or cannula out. Disconnecting away from the site leaves the needle, adhesive, and a short length of tubing in place.



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