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Insulin Pump Therapy

What an Insulin Pump Looks Like

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There are different ​types of insulin pumps. All pumps attach to the body, either via tubing or a pod taped to the skin. Each pump has a reservoir of rapid-acting insulin and the insulin flows into the body through a small tube (cannula) that the user inserts under the skin.

​​​​​Insulin Pumps with Tubing

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Insulin pumps with tubing are about the size of a deck of cards (Animas® and Medtronic®). They can be attached to ​a belt or waistband, strapped to the arm or leg, tucked inside a pocket or bra. The tubing connects the pump (with the insulin reservoir) to the cannula under the skin. In this example, the cannula is inserted in the abdomen; other sites can include the buttocks, legs, or arms. The tubing and cannula together are called an infusion set.

The user inserts a new cannula every 2 to 3 days. Some cannulas are straight while others are angled. Most cannulas are soft but are inserted with a removable needle. Once inserted, the needle is removed and the flexible cannula stays under the skin. People may choose to use metal cannulas instead.

The photo above shows what a 90 degree (straight) cannula looks like under the skin.

Insulin Pumps with NO Tubing 

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The tubeless system (Omnipod®) has an insulin-containing pod (about the size of half a deck of cards) that sticks to the skin. The pod is replaced every 2 to 3 days.

The user also carries a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) that’s about the size of a cell phone. The PDM is programmable and communicates with the pod.

The pod can be inserted into the belly, but also other places, such as the arms.

The photo above shows what the pod and cannula look like from the side, after insertion (assuming we could see under the skin). The pod sticks to the skin and the cannula lies under the skin.

If you aren’t sure how you’ll feel wearing a pump every hour of every day, consider carrying a deck of cards with you for a week. You can also contact your educator or pump company for a non-functioning pod to stick to your skin. The insulin pump websites are listed under the Resources Section. Please also read the Frequently Asked Questions Section to answer more of your questions.

Knowledge Check

An insulin pump is a small device that:
 
 
 
 

Correct! An insulin pump won’t automatically give bolus insulin with meals. The user must push buttons to “tell” the pump to give bolus insulin at each meal. The pump only uses rapid-acting insulin. The pump doesn’t stop high or low blood sugar levels from happening, but may make them easier to prevent. The user needs to think about food, activity, and other factors when programming doses.

The correct answer is B. An insulin pump won’t automatically give bolus insulin with meals. The user must push buttons to “tell” the pump to give bolus insulin at each meal. The pump only uses rapid-acting insulin. The pump doesn’t stop high or low blood sugar levels from happening, but may make them easier to prevent. The user needs to think about food, activity, and other factors when programming doses.​​​​​​​​​​