Insulin Pump Therapy

Infusion Sets

Insulin pumps deliver insulin to the body by a thin plastic tube ending in a soft plastic needle called a cannula, through which the insulin passes into your body. A small number of people choose to use steel cannulas rather than plastic ones, but the choice is yours. Together, this tubing and cannula are called an “infusion set.”

You insert the cannula just under the skin, usually on the abdomen, thighs or buttocks, using an introducer needle. If your set has a plastic cannula, you then remove the introducer needle, leaving only the plastic cannula in place. Some infusion sets have mechanical devices that insert the needle automatically, but all can be inserted by hand. Automatic inserters make it easier for kids and people with limited dexterity to insert an infusion set, and can make the process somewhat less intimidating.

Infusion set needles, particularly those from sets that are inserted at an angle, are substantially larger than the needles on insulin syringes. It’s important to realize that these needles can be intimidating to kids, and also to first time pump users. It’s also important to realize that inserting these large needles hurts for many people. Because of this potential for discomfort, use of a numbing cream such as L.M.X.4 or EMLA is highly recommended for all kids who use an insulin pump.

Thanks to Animas Corporation for allowing the use of their A Guide to Infusion Sets material and to Unomedical for providing high resolution photographs of their infusion sets.