Research Article

Brittle diabetes: long-term control with a portable, continuous, intravenous insulin infusion system.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 07 November 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:1207
  1. J Bayliss


    A young woman had severe brittle diabetes mellitus that was critically unmanageable with all conventional insulin treatment. Continuous subcutaneous and intramuscular infusions of insulin also failed to control her metabolic instability. Use of a continuous intravenous infusion, however, whereby a portable, variable-rate, battery-operated syringe pump delivered insulin through a subcutaneously tunnelled central venous catheter, resulted in good control. When she was receiving hourly intramuscular insulin injections (a mean of 778 IU daily) mean blood glucose concentrations had been 22.1 +/- 1.4 mmol/l (398 +/- 25 mg/100 microliters). After she had received the intravenous infusion for one month as an outpatient mean blood glucose concentration was 8.2 +/- 0.46 mmol/l (148 +/- 8 mg/100 microliters) and only 80 IU insulin daily was required. Follow-up after over five months of use showed that few complications had occurred. The system is simple to use and safe, and the diabetes had been stabilised such that she could enjoy a near-normal life style.