The most common method of testing glucose is to use a lancet to prick a finger,
producing a drop of blood. To minimize discomfort or bruising, it may help
to use the side of a finger, wash hands in warm water, shake the hands, or
use finer-tipped lancets. Still, most people with diabetes would love to have
an alternative way of testing their blood.
The following products can replace fingerstick testing with a lancet:
- The "Lasette" draws a drop of blood from the finger, but does so using
a laser. The laser creates a small painless hole in the skin, producing only
a mild tingling sensation. This product's main drawback is a hefty price
- Several companies make devices that draw blood from areas other than the
fingertips. These areas -- such as the upper arm or thigh -- tend to be less
sensitive. The devices also require a smaller drop of blood. Brand names
include Accu-Chek, AtLast, Freestyle, and One Touch.
- The "Sof-Tact" uses light suction to hold skin on your arm firmly in place,
while an integrated lancet draws the blood. The drop is applied automatically
to a test strip with results in 20 seconds. It eliminates the need for a
person to lance a fingertip.
You may also hear about the following products, which provide more continuous,
detailed blood glucose information. They supplement but do not replace fingerstick
- The GlucoWatch system for adults is worn like a wristwatch and provides
continuous monitoring. It takes measurements every 20 minutes by sending
tiny electric currents through the skin.
- A product by MiniMed (the Guardian REAL Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring
System) uses a sensor under the skin to record blood glucose every 5 minutes
for 3 days. This detailed information can be used by a doctor to suggest
corrections to a person's diabetes management program (like eating and exercising
Finally, some companies are trying to develop devices that would replace fingerstick
testing and lancets altogether. One such device, the Diasensor, has been in
development since the mid-90s but has not yet received FDA approval. It uses
an infrared beam to read blood glucose in capillaries under the skin without
breaking the skin. A number of other companies are working on similar devices.
As research continues and new products come to market, glucose testing may
some day be essentially effortless and painfree.
Fiallo-Scharer R, Diabetes Research in Children Network Study Group. Eight-point
glucose testing versus the Continuous Glucose Monitoring System in evaluation
of glcemic control in type 1 diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005;90:3387-3391.
Deiss D, Bolinder J, Riveline JP, et al. Improved glycemic control in poorly
controlled patients with type 1 diabetes using real-time continuous glucose
monitoring. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:2750-2752.
Bui H, Perlman K, Daneman D. Self-monitoring of blood glucose in children
and teens with diabetes. Pediatr Diabetes. March 2005:50-62.
Review Date: 5/10/2007
Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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