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 tag.
  • 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 testing:

  • 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 habits).

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.


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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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