Over the past 5 years, 21 patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus have been managed at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions with variable rate, remotely controlled implanted insulin pumps. To date, nearly 70 patient-years of experience has been gained with intraperitoneal delivery of a new U-400 insulin with a surfactant. All 21 patients are alive after a mean of 39.3 months (range, 10 to 65 months) after insulin pump implantation. Nineteen of the 21 patients remain on intraperitoneal insulin, for a 5-year actuarial system survival of 90%. Glucose control was improved, especially during the first 16 months after pump implantation, without an increased incidence of severe hypoglycemia. Catheter blockage has been a significant problem, occurring in nine of the 21 patients (43%). Catheter occlusion has been successfully managed, however, with laparoscopic repair in seven of 10 attempts or with catheter change in four of five patients. Nevertheless, quality of life and patient acceptance remain excellent. Moreover, pre- existing nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy have been surprisingly stable. With an aggressive policy of catheter change or laparoscopic clearance of catheter blockage, long-term intraperitoneal insulin delivery is now a safe and effective treatment for type I diabetics.
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