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What is an Infusion Set?

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sets… But Were Afraid to Ask

Part I: What is an Infusion Set?

You may have spent lots of time and effort researching which insulin pump was the best match for your child’s needs, or for your own needs as a PWD (person with diabetes), but chances are you spent little or no time thinking about the infusion set. In hindsight, both of us feel like that’s what we did – we didn’t realize the critical role that the infusion set plays in the safety and success of pumping. So here is a short summary of the options available and factors to consider so that you can find the infusion sets that best match your family’s needs.

What is an Infusion Set?

An infusion set is the delivery system to get the insulin from the pump to your body. Infusion sets includes the following components:
A cannula = the tiny plastic or metal tube that goes under the skin to deliver insulin into the fatty tissue just below the surface of the skin
A hub = the plastic piece and adhesive dressing that sits on top of the skin, that holds the cannula in place
Tubing = flexible tube that carries the insulin from the pump to the infusion site
A Connector = point at which the tubing connects to the insulin pump reservoir/cartridge; types include a universal “Luer-lock” or Medtronic’s proprietary connection.

Infusion sets are typically changed every 2-3 days. After use, a set is thrown away.

How is this Different from an Infusion “Site”?

The infusion site is the place on your body where the infusion set is attached. To avoid tissue damage that may affect absorption of insulin (which would, in turn, increase the unpredictability of resulting blood glucose), sites must be rotated regularly.

For further reading on infusion sets and insulin pumping, we recommend:
Infusion Sets, Part II: Choosing an Infusion Set

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

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