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An insulin pump is a small computerized device that delivers insulin in two ways:

  • In a steady measured and continuous dose (the "basal" insulin)
  • As a surge ("bolus") dose, at your direction, around mealtime.

Doses are delivered through a catheter, a flexible plastic tube, and inserted through the skin into the fatty tissue with the aid of a small needle and is taped in place.

The insulin pump is not an artificial pancreas since you still have to monitor blood glucose levels, but pumps can help some patients achieve better control, and many prefer this continuous system of insulin delivery over injections.

Pumps can be programmed to release small doses of insulin continuously, or a bolus dose close to mealtime to control the rise in blood glucose after a meal.  This delivery system most closely mimics the body's normal release of insulin.