This CGM review will cover continuous glucose monitors from Dexcom and Medtronic. The Dexcom G4, and Medtronic Guardian. I’ve had the Medtronic Guardian since March of 2012. I got the Dexcom G4 at the end of December and started using it last week. First, let me just say that both have benefits and drawbacks compared to the other, however, I only trust 1 of them. If you’ve done any reading online about CGM’s you probably already know which one I trust.
I was excited in March to be getting the Guardian. At that time, I was only aware of the Guardian, and since it integrated directly with my pump, it was a no brainer to go with it. I just called Medtronic and they dealt with insurance, who paid for it all. (I have amazing insurance!) When I received it, I was a bit terrified at the size of the needle. So much so, that I told the Medtronic nurse I was going to send it back. She calmed my concern over it, and got me to try it. When I tried it, I was surprised that I barely felt it go into my skin. After using it for a week, I called the nurse again to ask why it was so horribly inaccurate. It was only ever close to being accurate in the mornings when I hadn’t eaten for 10 or 12 hours. Once it told me my blood sugar as 146, but it was really 322!!! I told her that if this is normal, it does me no good. She said that it’s not as accurate when I’m rising or falling quickly, when my blood sugar is high, or if I calibrate it more than 3 times a day. Well, it seems to me, that if it’s NOT accurate at those times, it’s no good to anybody? People under good control don’t need CGM’s. It’s the people on the blood sugar roller coaster that do, and if this CGM is admittedly inaccurate at those times, then what good is it? Again she convinced me to stick with it. 6 months later and I’m still on the original box of sensors, with multiple unopened boxes.
Then I started to become involved in the diabetes online community, or DOC. Everyone in the DOC raved about the Dexcom 7, with it’s comfort, accuracy, and that you can wear it for 7 days. In the fall, I suddenly remembered that someone at Medtronic told me I have to re-order transmitters every 6 months. Instead, I called Dexcom. The G4 had just been released to rave reviews. My insurance allowed it, and I got it ordered before end of year so there would be no out of pocket cost. (Deductible was complete early in the year.) So far, I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the Dexcom G4. It’s accuracy is especially surprising compared to the Medtronic, especially when I’m spiking or crashing quickly, or running high. My educator mentioned to me that it’s more accurate the more you calibrate it, so I’ve been doing that. In just 3 days I’ve already noticed trends that I could never notice on the Medtronic because it was so horribly inaccurate. I also like that it’s not integrated. It allows me to set it on my desk at work, and monitor my blood sugar easily, without having to stand up and dig my pump out of my pocket. I like that it’s brightly lit and in color so it’s easy to see in the dark, without my glasses on, when I feel low.
Over the last 2 days, I wore both sensors. Granted, the Medtronic was past it’s 6 month mark, but it was never any good new, so who cares. I was really just trying to prove to myself that I made a good decision this time. At every OneTouch meter test, the Guardian failed in comparison to the G4. Tonight, the G4 warned me of a low that I hadn’t noticed yet while the Guardian thought I was at 122. Before the 48 hour mark, I just gave up on the Guardian and tore it off my skin. I’m done with it. The Dexcom G4 I have complete trust in.
Now, there are some drawbacks to the G4, but they’re minor. What’s most important to me, and to anyone who needs a CGM, is accuracy, the the G4 is certainly impressive regarding it’s accuracy. Below I’ve listed the benefits and drawbacks to each CGM.
Dexcom G4 Benefits:
- Accuracy! Especially when you need it, when your blood sugar is changing quickly. It seems the more I calibrate, the more accurate it is
- Much thinner and more comfortable needle
- The transmitter doesn’t have to be charged because the battery lasts 6 months
- Not integrated into pump. I actually like it not being integrated.
- Color screen with red for lows, yellow for highs
- Better range. I can go anywhere in my apartment and not lose signal
- It shows blood glucose as high as 400 compared to Guardian which is only 250
- The site sticks to your skin before you plunge the needle in
- Can move forward and backward in navigation of blood sugar history
- Sensor lasts 7 days officially (14 unofficially), the Guardian only lasts 3 (6 unofficially)
- Multiple alert profiles with differing sounds
- You can adjust the rise and fall rate arrow alerts
- When you don’t get it calibrated on time, it keeps tracking instead of stopping
- Univeral USB charger and connection to PC to track data
Dexcom G4 Drawbacks:
- Manual insertion of the sensor needle (no insertion catapult, it’s like taking a shot, but it was super easy and I can live with that)
- The sensor sticks out away from your skin farther than the Guardian so it’s easier to catch on things (I’ve had no problems as of yet though)
- You can’t go back in history and see the actual blood sugar values. You can only see the graph
- Lots of plastic waste created each time you change a site. Every new site comes with a new insertion tool. Really seems like a waste of materials.
Medtronic Guardian Benefits:
- Ummmmm? Ummmm? Give me a minute. I’ll think of something.
- The guardian uses an automatic insertion catapult
- If you use a Medtronic pump, you only have to deal with 1 supplier
- Transmitter is smaller and doesn’t stick out as far from your skin as the G4
- Although I don’t consider it a benefit, most people would, but it’s integrated into your pump, so you only have to carry 1 device, which you’re already used to carrying
Medtronic Guardian Drawbacks:
- Horribly inaccurate. Sometimes more than 200% off. Often at least 100% off.
- Smaller range than the G4. If you’re in another room, chances are the signal will be lost.
- The insertion needle is *insert colorful metaphor* HUGE . . . and leaves bloody wounds/scars
- Integrated into pump. Which means you can’t leave it out on the desk at work, without having to stand up and dig your pump out of your pocket while you’re talking on the phone to a customer
- Transmitter has to be charged with a battery operated charger instead of universal USB cable
- Sensor only lasts for 3 days (6 days if you stretch it, but you’ll have a nasty wound if you do)
- Uses proprietary bluetooth connection to PC to track data, which is horribly slow and often doesn’t work, or has driver problems, etc.
- When you don’t get it calibrated on schedule, it TURNS OFF?!!!
When I started this blog, it was so others could learn from my mistakes and not have to suffer them. Please . . . learn from my mistake, buy the Dexcom G4. And now my typical closing tag from G.I. Joe is more appropriate than ever . . . . .
********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!!! **********
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