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Continuous glucose sensor can help avoid potentially dangerous highs and lows


A tiny glucose sensor implanted beneath the skin can help some patients with diabetes better monitor their bloodsugar levels and manage their disease. The sensors, about the size of a needle, can be placed in fatty tissue anywhere on the body to collect interstitial fluid and transmit glucose readings to an external receiver that the patient monitors.

By using the implanted sensor, patients can avoid finger sticks, making it more comfortable and convenient for them to monitor their blood-sugar levels. And because readings are continuous, it is easier for patients and their physicians to identify fluctuations and trends in glucose levels. A relatively new technology, the sensors generally are used only in patients with brittle type 1 diabetes (those whose glucose level often swings quickly between high and low). They may, however, prove valuable in monitoring all types of diabetes. Several different models are available.

Studies show sensors are accurate, safe

A study by the American Diabetes Association showed that about 95 percent of readings from implanted glucose sensors were accurate when compared with readings from finger sticks. The study also found that glucose sensor patients experienced fewer episodes of hypo- or hyperglycemia and were more often within their target glucose range.

While not as accurate as the finger-stick method because they measure glucose levels in interstitial fluid rather than in blood, implanted glucose sensors can provide valuable insights into trends and previously undetected fluctuations in blood-sugar levels. For example, a patient with an implanted monitor can see if his or her glucose is dropping to dangerous levels during sleep, a condition that potentially could lead to unconsciousness and coma.

Program leader

Andrew Drexler, M.D.
Director, UCLA’s Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center
Co-chief, Division of Clinical Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension
Clinical Professor of Medicine

Contact information

For information on the Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center or to make an appointment, call (310) 825-7922.


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