Implanted Glucose Monitoring Devices
Introduction – One of the newest and most exciting frontiers in diabetic research is the use of continuous glucose monitoring systems. These systems are minimally invasive and are inserted just under the skin of the user. Continuous glucose monitoring devices or CGMDs change the paradigm of how diabetics have traditionally measured their glucose levels.
How it works – Rather than using drops of blood on strips of paper and insulin shots, implanted CGMDs measure the glucose levels from inside the body. Instead of using blood, the implant tests the glucose level in interstitial fluid, a source of energy for the cells of the body. The level read by the sensor is transmitted wirelessly to a receiver, which can alert the user if their glucose level is too high or too low. Some continuous monitoring devices actually also can control the amount of insulin given to the body based on the reading.
Refining the process – Continuous monitoring devices have only come about within the last 10 years, and there has been some trial and error in terms of their success. The problems associated with this type of device are the accuracy of the reading and the amount of invasion on the body it can require. In terms of accuracy, some doctors have expressed reservations that the reading on in CGMDs actually has a five minute lag time because interstitial fluid does not absorb glucose as quickly as blood does. Also, there have been problems determining the correct amount of interstitial fluid that would provide an accurate reading. As far as invasiveness, many users of early versions of CGMDs reported various amount of skin irritation, due to the device’s method of sampling interstitial fluid.
The future – However, technology is progressing quickly and these problems are becoming fewer. While the FDA has yet to approve a CGMD that would completely replace traditional glucose testing, there are trials in the works. If researchers are able to perfect CGMDs, they may be able to develop better ways of controlling diabetes.
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