By: Chris James
Lancing devices are critical tools forobtaining blood samples for glucosemeasurement. While good diabetes managementrequires frequent blood testing, thepain and inconvenience involved inlancing can prevent a person withdiabetes from undertaking the appropriatenumber of daily blood glucose tests.
Today, there are many differentlancing devices available. Understandingwhat to look for can help you to choose the device that is best for you.
Selecting a Lancing Device
A common practice in selectinga lancing system is to rely onthe device that comes with a particularblood glucose meter. This islike using an inferior razor simplybecause it came with your favoriteshaving cream.
You should instead review lancingdevices independently of meters inorder to select the one best suited toyour specific needs.
In doing so, consider these threekey criteria:
“People with diabetes are often advisedto check their blood glucose several times per day,” says Jeff Hitchcock, president of the organization Children With Diabetes.
“Based on our most recent polldata, kids with diabetes are testingon average more than six times perday,” says Hitchcock. “Therefore, it is important that lancing systemsbe as simple and easy to use as possible.”
To this end, the devices should require thefewest possible number of steps for lancing in order to provide the best user experience.For example, the priming and firing of the lancing device should be simple. Some devicesrequire two-handed operation to pull back the cocking mechanism, while others simplify the process to one-handed operation with thepress of a button—just like a ballpointpen.
The next generation of devices willoffer the added convenience of multipleself-contained lancets in a cartridge,thus eliminating the need for loading and unloading a new or used lancet.
Many people with diabetes acknowledgethat callused fingers and frequent dosesof sharp pain have become a normal partof everyday life. In addition to pain at themoment of lancing, people with diabetes alsoexperience lingering pain and slow healingof the punctured sites.
To help minimize pain, tissue damageand discomfort, choose a device that offersa smooth, well-controlled stick. Today,spring-driven devices with cam guidancetend to offer smoother control than thosewith linear guidance.
Lancing to the right depth is another keyconsideration. A lancet should pierce theskin only to the depth necessary to get anadequate amount of blood. Lancing toodeep causes increased pain, while not lancingdeep enough requires re-lancing. Fornow, the best option is a device that featuresmultiple depth settings. While these devicesoffer improvements over those lacking thisfeature, they often prove unreliable in reachingthe intended depth. To compensate, theuser dials the depth setting deeper than necessaryto prevent having to re-lance.
Tomorrow’s third-generation devices willoffer enhanced sophistication to ensure near100 percent reliability in depth accuracy.
The need to load and remove lancets for eachindividual use creates issues of safety, particularlyfor children.
The safest products available today are thosethat allow safe ejection of the used lancetwithout handling. However, even some deviceswith an ejection mechanism do notwork when used with hollow-back lancets.This problem will eventually be resolvedwith the advent of self-contained lancets inone disposable cartridge or disk.
The Future of Lancing Devices
The future of lancing promises the introduction of several enhanced devices that further improve the lancingexperience.
One of these systems will be the Accu-Chek MultiClix.This cam-driven lancing device integrates a six-lancetcartridge, eliminating the need to eject and replace alancet after each test.
Additionally, in the near future, expect electronicallycontrolled lancing systems.
The Pelikan Sun system is one such device that iscurrently under development by Pelikan TechnologiesInc. of Palo Alto, California. The Pelikan Sun systemutilizes technology controlled by an electronic drivemechanism known as Smart Lancing. Working together,these components quickly and precisely drive each lancetat an individually controlled speed to the exact intendeddepth while minimizing unnecessary vibrations.
According to Pelikan Technologies, the Pelikan Sunsystem will have 30 depth settings. In addition, due to thesystem’s strict control over every aspect of the lance, pain will be reduced.
The Pelikan Sun lancing device will also integrate 50sterile lancets into one small disposable disk, eliminatingthe need to handle, load and unload exposed lancets.