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Question:

From Kentucky, USA:

Is there a device that is in the prototype stage that both monitors diabetes and also injects insulin if the reading is at a certain level?

Answer:

As you are probably aware, there's been lots of activity recently to try to develop a device to measure blood sugar without a finger stick.

But you're asking for a device that would also be capable of analyzing the sugar level, and deciding how much insulin should be given, which is a much more complicated concept. It would need some sort of computer, and a software program called an "algorithm," to decide when, and how much, insulin to give.

Interestingly, there has been such a device available since the 1980's, if you've got a spare US$40,000 or so and a full-time technician to baby-sit the device: it was called the Biostator. Obviously, it never really did too much, except in research studies or other short-term uses like in the operating room. (Actually, it turned out to be cheaper to have a nurse check fingerstick blood sugar tests every few minutes, and change the rate of insulin delivery based on algorithms that he/she had written out, rather than trusting the machine. I once had a almost-new Biostattor donated to me, and lost it. I really haven't missed it at all.) There are currently several companies working on improved, miniaturized, long-term-use versions of these devices: Let's hope they're simpler to use!

Actually, if you think about the complexity (and the cost) of these devices, the concept of using diabetes education to create a well-trained patient, plus using fingerstick blood sugar testing and insulin shots or a insulin pump, plus a diabetes team to back the patient up, works pretty well (and is very cheap by comparison).

WWQ

Original posting 16 Nov 96

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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