Types of Insulin Pumps

Diabetes Care

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the glucose level in the blood and its deficiency can cause the glucose level to increase, leading to diabetes. Some people require an external supply of insulin, due to absence of insulin production, which can be fulfilled through an injection, or a more advanced insulin pump. There are three main varieties of insulin pumps available in the market like, tubeless, implantable and insulin pumps attached by a tube, which act as a substitute for the multiple daily injections. An insulin pump is a battery-operated medical device that contains a syringe or a reservoir filled with insulin, a microprocessor that enables you to adjust the amount of insulin to be delivered and an infusion line attached to a small plastic tube called cannula. Cannula is a disposable device and should be replaced regularly after a few days.The insulin is carried through the infusion line into the cannula and then into the body. Many people think that the device should be implanted in the body via a surgery, and they are referring to the implantable pumps but, it is not compulsory, you can insert an insulin pump yourself as well. Before proceeding on to the types of insulin pumps, let me tell you that the types vary not only according to the brands but also according to the way they are connected to the body. Take a look at the types of pumps described below:

Tubeless Insulin Pump

As the name suggests, this type of insulin pump is tubeless and sits right on the skin and the insulin is injected through the skin without the tube.


  • The two parts in this pump, the Pod and the PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager) make insulin delivery much more simple.
  • It has power supply, automated inserter, built-in reservoir, infusion set and pumping mechanism.
  • It is highly durable because it is a waterproof device. You can carry out several activities with the device on your body, you can even swim and bathe.
  • As there are no tubes, there are no entanglements or hassles during insulation.
  • It delivers insulin according to your personalized settings, whatever and whenever you ask for.
  • It weighs not more than 1.2 ounces so won’t feel like you are wearing an insulin pump.
  • It has a large screen which is easy to see and use.

Implantable Insulin Pump

These pumps are placed (implanted) under the skin via a surgical procedure. The insulin holder also lies under the skin but, it can be refilled after approximately 45 days. These implantable devices are a relief to people who presently have to handle bulky monitoring systems, or prick themselves throughout the day for measuring blood sugar levels and injecting insulin into the body.


  • The existing implantable pumps only deliver the specific timed doses at regular intervals. The research team is planning to make an advanced implant that will have a glucose sensor to imitate the normal functioning of the pancreas. These sensors will check the glucose level and send information (stored in a chip) to the algorithm in the pump. On processing the information, the algorithm will cause the appropriate action by the pump.
  • The algorithm follows the past behavior of the system and assesses the future procedure.
  • As it is a complete implantable device, there is no need of regular treatment.
  • It is a simple device without any electronic components which makes it last longer with less replacements.
  • The syringe can be positioned inside or outside the body.

Insulin Pump Attached by a Tube

These are the most widely used pumps all over the world. They are small devices with flexible but strong tubes attached to it. It can be kept inside the pocket or even tucked into the waist band. The insulin passes through the pump into the small tube beneath the skin.


  • Just like any other insulin pump, this pump keeps you from pricking yourself several times a day to measure the glucose level.
  • It is portable because of its weight. One can keep it in the pocket and use it when required.
  • The price of this pump is the same as the other pumps.
  • Various lengths of tubing are available which can be adjusted according to the person’s height. This helps to avoid discomfort and entanglement of the tubing.
  • The place of disconnection of the infusion set is also an important aspect of a tubed insulin pump. You should choose an infusion set that allows the disconnection of the set away from the cannula because for some people with a weak eyesight, it becomes difficult to disconnect the infusion set that is right at the cannula because they cannot see it clearly. This can damage the device. So be careful while selecting the infusion set.

Though these pumps have unique features, they also have potential drawbacks. Hence, consider the advantages and disadvantages of insulin pump and consult your doctor before selecting one.


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