Insulin pumps are small computerized devices that deliver insulin in two ways:
- In a steady measured and continuous dose (the "basal" insulin)
- As a surge ("bolus") dose, at your direction, around mealtime.
Doses are delivered through a flexible plastic tube called a catheter. With the aid of a small needle, the catheter is inserted through the skin into the fatty tissue and is taped in place.
The insulin pump is not an artificial pancreas (because you still have to monitor your blood glucose level), but pumps can help some people achieve better control, and many people prefer this continuous system of insulin delivery over injections.
Pumps can be programmed to releases small doses of insulin continuously (basal), or a bolus dose close to mealtime to control the rise in blood glucose after a meal. This delivery system most closely mimics the body's normal release of insulin.
You'll want to check with your insurance carrier before you buy a pump and supplies. Most carriers cover these, but some don't.