What is a patch pump?

Pumps with tubing will soon be usurped by pumps where the infusion set and insulin supply are both attached tot eh body, with insulin delivery being dictated and programmed by a hand-held device. The benefit is no more tubes poking out of your clothes, snagging ground doorknob or gear sticks and generally getting in the way and looking a bit freaky (or at least feeling it).

With patch pumps, the insulin and the actual pumping mechanism is on the body in a pod or ‘patch’. The whole of this is stuck to the body and has a canula through which the insulin is delivered. The canula is inserted just under the skin and stays on for several days.

The control of the rate of insulin infusing through the patch is done via a separate ‘remote’. This is usually called a ‘handheld’ or PDM (personal diabetes monitor). You would plug in your own personal details – such as your insulin:carb ratio and insulin sensitivity as well as programme in your basal rates and use to deliver your boluses.

Patch pumps are the next step in the evolution of insulin pump technology giving the wearer much greater physical flexibility in terms of being ‘tube-free’ and will be welcomed as a great innovation by many pumpers used to adapting their clothing and behaviours around accommodating tubing.

In the UK, the Omnipod (pictured) remains the only patch pump available, with Cellnovo and the Accu-Chek Solo due to launch here in 2012.

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