Insulin jet injectors can allow people with diabetes to
inject insulin without using a needle. However, many people shy away from these
small devices because they can be expensive and complex to use. Read on to
learn how they work and their pros and cons.
Using a jet injector
Insulin jet injectors typically contain three parts:
- the delivery device (shaped like a pen)
- a disposable injector nozzle
- a disposable insulin vial adapter
The tiny opening at the end of the disposable injector
nozzle usually measures less than 0.009 inches in diameter. This is much
smaller than the typical insulin needle, which measures 0.28 inches in
How you use it
You load the pen by filling the insulin adapter with
insulin. Once the pen is loaded, you set the device to your prescribed insulin
dose. Then, you place the pen against your skin, typically in an area with some
fatty tissue. A good spot could be your stomach, the front or side of your
thigh, or the upper, outer section of your buttocks.
When you press the button, the jet forces a high-pressure
stream of insulin through the very tiny hole at the end of the disposable
injector nozzle. The insulin turns into a vapor that passes through the outer
layer of your skin. It then moves through the lower layers of your skin and
into your bloodstream.
How it works
Insulin jet injectors use a compressed spring or a compressed
gas cartridge to create the pressure to send the insulin through the pen into
Compressed springs are used more often. They’re lightweight,
small, durable, and inexpensive.
Compressed gas cartridges typically contain either nitrogen
or carbon dioxide. They can produce more pressure than compressed springs, but
they cost quite a bit more, weigh more, and need to be replaced more often.
Are there any risks?
There are a few risks to using an insulin jet injector.
However, these can be reduced with correct usage and proper care of the device.
The biggest risk to using an insulin jet injector is
injecting the wrong amount of medication. If you don’t properly inject the
insulin, some of it may stay on the surface of your skin, so it won’t reach
your bloodstream. If this happens, you won’t get enough insulin to keep your
blood sugar within your target range.
your insulin jet injector working well, be sure to keep it clean, dry, and out
of the sun. When you’re not using the device, store it in its carrying case.
Your insulin jet injector may also deliver the wrong amount
of insulin if you don’t care for it properly. You need to keep the insulin jet injector
in working condition to make sure that it delivers an accurate amount of
Be sure to monitor your blood sugar carefully when you use
one of these devices. Call your doctor right away if your blood sugar rises to
a dangerous level.
Skin damage or pain
While insulin jet injectors don’t use a needle, they can still
cause trauma to your skin. You may have slight bleeding and bruising at the
injection site. Some people feel that the insulin jet injector hurts more than
an injection with a typical insulin needle or pen.
If you take poor care of the device, another risk of the
insulin jet injector is infection. You need to sterilize your insulin jet injector
on a regular basis. If you don’t, bacteria, viruses, and fungi may grow. Inject
these germs along with your insulin puts you at risk of infection.
The instructions that came with your insulin jet injector can
tell you how to sterilize your device. You can also ask your doctor to explain.
If you don’t maintain your insulin jet injector properly,
you may also have air locks and other technical problems that can prevent you
from using it.
An air lock occurs when too much air in the device stops
it from pulling in any more insulin.
To remove air from the insulin jet injector, disconnect
the insulin cartridge and adaptor from the main device. Next, tap the nozzle
with your fingertips to allow the air to come to the top and out of the
To help prevent an air lock, make sure that all of the
pieces of the insulin jet injector are connected properly before taking insulin
into the device. Also, be sure to hold the device correctly when taking insulin
What are the advantages?
Several factors may deter people from using an insulin jet
injector, but it has its advantages. Of course, the lack of a needle can be a
big benefit for people who don’t like needles.
Advantages also include a faster delivery of insulin to the
bloodstream. An insulin jet injector allows the insulin to spread over a larger
area in the lower layer of your skin than a typical needle would. As a result,
the insulin moves into your bloodstream faster than it would from a needle
injection. And for this reason, patients who learn how to properly use an
insulin jet injector may not need to use as much insulin.
How much do they cost?
Insulin jet injectors are more expensive than other methods
of insulin delivery, such as insulin needles or pens. The insulin jet injector itself
can cost anywhere from $200 to $700 in the United States. You also have to buy
replacement injector nozzles and insulin adapters. Plus, many insurance
companies don’t cover the cost of insulin jet injectors.
In comparison, an individual needle can cost about $0.25. Insulin
pens are not expensive devices, either. They’re typically disposable or come
with disposable, refillable cartridges. Also, insulin needles and pens are often
covered by insurance.
Talk with your doctor
Though the insulin jet injector has been around for several
decades, it has never been very popular. This is likely due to its high cost
and complex structure. However, if you have an extreme fear of needles, this
device may be a good option for you. Talk to your doctor to find out more about
the insulin jet injector and if it might work for you.