June 5, 2007

The FDA has approved a device that measures glucose levels continuously for up to seven days in people with diabetes.

The standard fingerstick test records a person’s glucose level as a snapshot in time, but the newly approved STS-7 Continuous Glucose Monitoring System measures glucose levels every five minutes throughout a seven-day period.

The weeklong information can be used to detect trends and track patterns in glucose levels throughout the week that wouldn’t be captured by fingerstick measurements alone. Diabetics must still rely on the fingerstick test to decide whether additional insulin is needed.

The STS-7 System, manufactured by DexCom, uses a disposable sensor placed just below the skin in the abdomen to measure the level of glucose in the fluid found in the body’s tissues. Patients can easily place the sensor themselves.

The sensor must be replaced weekly. An alarm can be programmed to sound if a patient’s glucose level reaches pre-set lows or pre-set highs.