BACKGROUND: A recent Veterans Affairs cooperative trial demonstrated that intensive insulin therapy via an implantable pump with intraperitoneal insulin delivery reduced glycemic variability and improved quality of life compared with multiple daily insulin injections. Our aim was to determine perioperative morbidity and assess long-term function of the implantable insulin pump. METHODS: Fifty-one adult patients with type 2 diabetes had infusion pumps placed over a 2-year period at seven VA Medical Centers as part of a randomized prospective study. RESULTS: All pumps were placed successfully. There were two (4%) perioperative complications. There were no wound complications. Duration of pump use ranged from 12 to 25 months (mean 20). Catheter obstruction (57%) and pump malfunction (25%) were the most common reasons for pump explantation. Catheter occlusions increased after 12 months. Catheter occlusion was treated by percutaneous rinse procedure in 75% and revisional procedures in 31% of patients. CONCLUSIONS: Implantable insulin pumps can be placed with minimal surgical morbidity. Attention to surgical detail and infusion protocol permits satisfactory long-term function. Pump/catheter complications increase with time but are usually resolvable by either operative or percutaneous manipulations.
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