Thursday, November 11, 2010



No responders so far!

Since starting the blog, I have heard that although approx 200 DiaPorts were implanted worldwide, there are only around 20 of us still using a DiaPort.

Here is my story, copied from

My DSN suggested a pump in August 2002 because of my unpredictable blood glucose levels due to lipohypertrophy. I started pumping in September 2002 and gained the best control I’d had in years. After about a year, I saw signs that the lipo problem was going to become an issue again with my infusion sites. I saw my DSN and tried a few new areas. However, despite rotating infusion sites, some sites felt slightly lumpy beneath the skin, and became less and less reliable. I thus had to avoid these sites. Even after a couple of months of avoiding them, if I went back to them nothing had changed. I could still keep good control, but had fewer and fewer comfortable, reliable infusion sites as time went on.

I asked IP-UK list members for suggestions, and amongst them was the DiaPort. So I telephoned the DSN at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, where a limited trial of the DiaPort had all but closed down due to lack of uptake and 1 in 3 failure of the port. Joan Everett, the DSN, asked me to get a referral from my usual diabetes care team (in Essex) to Bournemouth, just for the port (that is, not for my ongoing diabetes care). I saw my diabetologist in August 2004, and a letter was sent in September. I saw Joan and Dr David Kerr in November 2004. Dr Kerr agreed that the lipo was the problem, and suggested that the DiaPort could be a solution. He ran through the drawbacks, and Joan gave me the telephone numbers of the other 2 patients who still had a DiaPort, so I could get the patient’s point of view.


Risk of site infection
Risk of blockage
Risk of peritonitis


Avoids subcutaneous tissue damage
No skin irritation from nickel or infusion set adhesives
No needles even when changing the infusion set
Uptake by hepatic circulation is more like real pancreatic release than via peripheral circulation
Rapid and reliable effect of insulin (starts after 3 minutes)
I spoke to another DiaPort patient and decided to go ahead.

The port was inserted under general anaesthetic on 20 December 2004. I had to stay in hospital for 2 nights; the night before and the night after surgery. There were 2 wounds – one where the port pokes through the skin, and another, about 2 inches long, where the surgeon’s fingers did their thing! Infusion was transferred to the port immediately.

Recovery was awful for the first couple of days. I was much more comfortable than I expected to be, and only took paracetamol to kill the pain for a few days. But my blood glucose levels were very difficult to bring down. Although the standard procedure is to reduce the insulin dose by 10%, I needed large correction boluses for the first night, and even a subcut injection when ketones showed up. Eventually Joan and I got it under control and kept it there with a temporary basal rate of around 180%.

The only visible part is a metal bit like the tip of a tube, about half a centimetre high and half a centimetre wide, that pokes through the skin. This is fixed in place with a plastic wheel-like thing, about 2cm diameter, which I have to wear for the first 3 months. There is also a plastic cannula of about 10cm underneath the skin that reaches into my peritoneal cavity. I have to go back to Bournemouth to have the inner catheter changed every 3 months. This will be done within a few minutes by the surgeon, in the day theatre, without any need for anaesthetic.

Daily care was a bit daunting at first, but then so was daily care of the infusion sites when I started pumping. After a month, I didn’t need to wear a wound dressing. Now I just have to clean the area with an alcohol swab every day, and make sure I only handle it with clean hands. But isn’t that the same with subcut infusions?

Using the port has certainly solved the infusion site problems! It’s always in the same spot, and always reliable. Even a big pizza bolus doesn’t sting, and I can change the infusion set last thing at night, if I need to. Such freedom!

I have had one superficial site infection. The area looked red and oozy, and began to itch. My GP gave me a week’s worth of antibiotics and things settled down again.

The port is very comfortable, I don’t even know it’s there, unlike some infusion sets, which I couldn’t wait to take out after a couple of days. It’s perhaps slightly less discrete than the low profile infusion sets, but it hasn’t been a problem to me.

My only concern now is that I seem to be building up insulin resistance. Prior to the DiaPort insertion, I needed 25 units of basal insulin per day. This has increased to at least 49 units a day, and it seems that every time I need to have a “temporary” basal increase, it doesn’t quite settle back to 100%. So I’m not sure what will happen in the long term.

Apart from that, I’m very happy with the DiaPort, and would recommend it to anyone with ongoing infusion site problems. Those with allergies or needle phobia would also benefit.

Update May 2005: I'm now using 97 basal units per day. My blood glucose levels are often unpredictable, and my daily insulin profile has changed so that my peak insulin delivery is between midday and midnight. This is unacceptable so I have arranged an appointment to discuss this with Dr Kerr - until now, the team seemed uninterested and reluctant to admit this is a problem. However, having agreed to an appointment, they sent one that's only 2 weeks away, which must be pretty good for a busy diabetes outpatient clinic. The protocol for under-delivery shows that an x-ray with radiopaque dye is the next step, to show up any fibrous tissue gathering at the end of the inner catheter. If that's what's causing the problem, then I may need a laparoscopy to clear this tissue.

Update late May 2005: Under general anaesthetic, laparoscopy showed the catheter was completely embedded in the omentum (part of the peritoneum) and surrounded by crystallised insulin. They removed the overgrown omentum and chipped away at the insulin, then inserted a new inner and outer catheter. Time will tell if it will remain clear and function well.

Update July 2005: My basal rates have been increasing steadily again, and another x-ray with dye showed some new crystallisation. At the end of the month I will swap insulin from Humalog to Insuman Infusat, and start flushing with saline every 2 weeks, to try to prevent crystallisation.


  1. this is really interesting. I had my lipohypertrophy sites removed after 15 years of injecting and moved to a pump to help relieve pressure on my sites. After 10 years, most of the old sites are finally clear but the ones caused by the pump are starting to be really painful.

    I am looking for information about whether diaport would be an option for me and if so, for how long?

    A big thank you for this information.
    regards, Sam.

  2. Hi Sam

    DiaPort is designed for people like you (and me). You won't be able to get one at the moment - the old style is no longer available and the new one hasn't been launched yet. It should be available in Spring 2012 though. Roche is reluctant to publish anything about it until they can be sure they can keep their promises (fair enough!).

    Old style DiaPorts lasted up to 5 years. I am on my second one - the first lasted about 3.5 years and my current one really needs to be replaced.

    Despite the difficulties I am having with it now - I can't use it very often due to omentum overgrowth - I am looking forward to getting the next generation DiaPort. The bit inside will be much softer and shouldn't provoke my omentum into trying to protect me from this irritating invader.

    Just like the old one, the new one will only last for so long and will then need to be removed and a new one implanted under general anaesthetic.

    Hopefully the new one will be available in more than one UK hospital but for the time being, you'll only be able to get any information about it from Roche. As far as I know, the device is fully developed and ready, but the approval process has to include all the literature about it and training programme for surgeons and diabetologists.

    Hope that helps, and thanks for visiting DiaPortUser.