Using an infusion set that works well is one of the more important steps in making your pump experience successful. The infusion set and site are the weakest links in pumping. If a particular set causes skin irritation, falls off when swimming or sweating, or is easily dislodged, problems with your control will occur. For infants and young children with diabetes, and during pregnancy, metal sets are preferred for their reliability and ease of use.
For success with a pump, the infusion set must be reliable and comfortable. When selecting an infusion set, consider:
- How much body fat do you have?
- Which sites on your body are best to use?
- Do your belt or clothing choices limit wearing a set near the waist?
- Does your activity level limit you to certain sites?
- Which type and size infusion set will work best for the body locations you prefer?
- Is disconnection easy? Does it disconnect right at the infusion site or have a connector that is located a few inches away?
- Will you need an insertion device for this infusion set?
- Straight-in metal sets have the smallest gauges and are easiest to insert, even using only one hand. Slanted Teflon sets may be more reliable for some users than straight-in Teflon sets. Auto-inserters can introduce some problems of their own, but they tend to work best with straight-in Teflon sets.
- Unless you experience leaking or control problems, the shortest metal needle or Teflon catheter lengths usually work best. If infusion set problems arise, make sure to anchor the infusion line with tape. If you are doing this already, try a different type of insulin set. Discuss your options with your health care professional.
Most infusion sets are reliable and work well. However, problems with a particular set, like a tendency to detach, crimping of the Teflon when an automatic inserter is used, or a series of unexplained high glucose readings caused by set failure will not be apparent until a set is worn for some time. A particular infusion set may cause a skin rash or irritation while another one will not. A trial run with various sets often helps the wearer select a set that works well for them. If there is an infusion set problem, finding the right infusion set can dramatically improve satisfaction. Fortunately, there are many good choices, as seen on our Infusion Set Comparison page.
Good technique when applying an infusion set is important and can avoid many control headaches. See Pumping Insulin for the latest information on how to succeed with infusion sets.