How pumping works

How an insulin pump works

Insulin pumping basics

An insulin pump is a device about the size of a cell phone that contains a cartridge of rapid-acting insulin. A pump has a screen and buttons for programming the pump’s internal computer, and a precise motor that pushes the insulin from the cartridge into your body through a thin plastic tube called an infusion set.

How is insulin delivered?

Like your pancreas, an insulin pump releases small amounts of rapid-acting insulin to keep blood glucose levels steady between meals and during sleep. This is called the basal rate. Basal insulin takes the place of long-acting insulin.

Then, at meal or snack time, you can tell the pump to deliver the amount of insulin needed to match the grams of carbohydrate in the food that is eaten, just like a healthy pancreas. This is called a bolus. A bolus can also be given to correct a high blood glucose.

How is an insulin pump connected to my body?

Every 2-3 days, a thin plastic tube called a cannula is inserted just underneath the skin using an infusion set. The infusion set is typically an all-in-one set that uses a thin introducer needle to insert the soft, thin cannula, which is then removed once the cannula is under the skin. A tube connects the infusion set to the pump using a Luer connector, a standard locking mechanism that securely attaches the tube to the pump..

Your healthcare professional will help you determine the best insulin infusion site for you. Typical infusion sites include the abdomen, hips, buttocks, upper back arm, and thighs.

How is an insulin pump worn?

Most pumps are so small and discreet, no one has to know you're wearing one unless you want them to. Plus, there are so many accessories available, you have many options to choose from. And for pumps that share information and communicate wirelessly using a meter-remote, like the OneTouch Ping®, you can calculate a bolus, deliver a bolus insulin dose, and view things like your basal rate without having to look at your pump.

As you begin your transition to pump therapy, you won't be alone. You'll have the support of your healthcare team, who will help with everything from infusion sets, to your starting basal rates, to calculating your bolus ratios. We're also here to provide you with the information you need to be a successful pumper.

What's it like being on a pump?

To help answer that question, you can explore our Living with a Pump section of our site, starting with "A day in the life of a pumper". You might also want to read Sandy's Corner, written by one of our own Animas staff members who has Type 1 diabetes and has been pumping since 2007.

The information made available on the Animas website is not intended to be used or viewed as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional. The information provided on this site cannot be the basis for diagnosis or therapy. You are advised to obtain professional advice and should always discuss your treatment plan with your healthcare team.