Desang magazine overview of CGM sensor technologies



Diabetes healthcare is being boosted by a greater access to and

understanding of what these little bits of wearable wellness

can do for users. See overleaf for an overview of sensors

currently available, and coming soon. By Sue Marshall.


hen we published

a feature in the

summer of 2017

called A Sensor

Adventure, there

really weren't that many about, they were

rarely seen and not widely understood in

terms of the benefits they can bring to

individuals. Many people have had to selffund, but at

least more people have used

sensors and started to see their value in

terms of improved diabetes control.

The main contenders 18 months

ago were Medtronic's Enlite sensor,

back then mainly used in combination

with the company's 640g insulin pump,

and there was Dexcom's G5 - since

replaced by G6 - that was used by nonMedtronic

pump users. And there was

Abbott's alternative, the FreeStyle Libre,

plus a few people operating IDY (hacked)

sensors, still a growing community. Since

then, both Medtronic and Dexcom have

broadened out with offerings that work

for people using multiple daily injections

(MDI). Plus, Abbott's FreeStyle Libre has

been accepted nationally as a strip-free

alternative to blood testing. There are

new features on all of these products,

but beyond that in the next few months

there should be at least two or three new

contenders on our shores, brining the

choice up to seven or eight. This should

serve to increase uptake and presumably

drive down prices.

In case you're wondering what the

fuss is about CGM, here is a reminder:

CGMs have a set of alarms that can be set

up, alerting the wearer to trends of blood

glucose going up, or down. The idea

being that if you can detect and prevent

these we can go a long way toward

reducing the long-term complications that

come from high and low blood sugars.

Back in a flash

CGM is not Flash Glucose Monitoring,

which is the technology behind Abbott's

FreeStyle Libre sensor and which requires

the user to swipe the sensor in order to

pick up blood glucose data. This means

there is no transmitter worn on the sensor,

keeping it a smaller unit to attach to the

body. It's also a slightly more affordable

technology, partly as each sensor lasts 14

days. The version currently available in the

UK does not have alarms on it, though

that is likely to change sometime this year

when a newer version comes out. Full

CGM - Dexcom, Medtronic and Medtrum

at present - includes a transmitter, with

each sensor lasting seven days.

Alarms, which can be both annoying

and tiring, are also utterly invaluable

when it comes to giving the wearer the

'heads up' as to the status of their blood

glucose control. An alert can warn if you

are trending too high, or - even more

importantly - too low, giving you the

chance to take action and avert a hypo.

Improvements in as well growing

understanding of the benefits, combined

with greater competition in the arena, is

leading to better access to sensors - see

the report on the recent NHS Long-Term

Plan, which includes specific reference to

sensor provision for people with diabetes

who qualify.

Increased use of sensors is an

important step on the way to a bigger

goal, that of closed loop technology -

also referred to as the 'artificial' or 'bionic'

pancreas. Increasingly, CGM data is

capable of being beamed directly into a

connected pump system, which can be

set to automate insulin delivery (closed

loop). In the last issue we did an extensive

feature on the Medtronic Minimed 670g

insulin delivery system, the first selfadjusting closed loop pump. That's


the start; all pumps in the future are likely

to come with a sensor combination, so

getting used to wearing one is one way to

get further along that path.


If you need to know more about, or need

help to put your case forward in getting

diabetes technology, contact Input

Diabetes who may be able to help.

continued over


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  2. Abbott Freestyle Libre, Flash Glucose Monitoring, blood testing without lancets
  3. Desang diabetes magazine diabetes information, Sue Marshall
  4. Desang diabetes magazine diabetes news
  5. Omnipod Insulet insulin pump with insulin pods, podders
  6. Desang diabetes magazine diabetes news
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  8. Input diabetes, help to get diabetes technology, access to diabetes technology
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  18. Desang diabetes news report, the NHS Long Term Plan, Robin Hewings Diabetes UK
  19. Page 0019
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  21. Desang magazine overview of CGM sensor technologies
  22. The CGM sensor scene 2019
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