The first flash glucose monitoring system now in SA

The world’s first flash glucose monitoring system, which requires only a scan rather than a traditional finger prick to test blood glucose, is now available in South Africa.

The ability to get a glucose reading with a quick, painless scan has ushered in a new era of bloodless, simple and calibration-free visualisation of glycemic control – the flash glucose monitoring system.

The unique technology replaces blood glucose meters, while giving patients many of the benefits of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), including real-time glucose values, trend information and comprehensive reports.

The flash glucose monitoring system

This new system includes a flexible filament sensor, which is inserted 5 mm under the skin. The filament is connected to a small, round disc and held in place on the skin with medical adhesive. The sensor remains inserted for 14 days. One hour after application to the upper arm, it begins reading blood glucose levels and continues to do so for up to 14 days.

The hi-tech monitor, first introduced in Europe, has provided unparalleled levels of data so necessary in the management of diabetes and has revolutionised the way people with Type 1 diabetes can manage their glucose levels.

Controlling glucose levels is a prerequisite for treating diabetes. Traditional testing with blood from a fingertip is recommended 4 to 8 times a day.

What the expert says

Dr Larry Distiller, an endocrinologist, says when the technology was first introduced in Europe, a voluntary pilot project was initiated. More than 50 000 people participated in the pilot, between 2014 and 2016, yielding 409 million data points. The analysed data provided invaluable insights into glucose monitoring.

In comparison, the new flash glucose monitoring system allows users to scan and check their blood glucose at any time without any limit. Practically, pilot project participants scanned on average up to 16 times per day. Research found that those who scanned the most had the best control of their blood glucose.

In addition to always being available and providing immediate personal monitoring, the reader data can be downloaded and analysed using specific software. This produces detailed and informative visual outputs on daily glycaemic trends and variability and highlights statistical risks of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia according to the time of day.

Looking into the future

In time, patients will also be able to scan the sensor using their cell phone. Distiller says this new technology is approved for dosing insulin, except in three cases when a finger stick is recommended: when hypoglycaemic, when glucose is changing rapidly, or when symptoms don’t match the system’s readings.

MEET OUR EXPERT - Prof Larry Disteller

Prof Larry Disteller is an endocrinologist.