Insulin Pumps and X-Rays: What’s the Protocol?

I’m re-upping this post that I initially published on February 5, 2018, because…it’s happened again. I have another broken bone! This time, it’s a chauffeur’s fracture, which is just a fancy way of saying that I have a break along my radius due to falling on my outstretched hand. Fortunately, the X-ray process went much smoother this time around – I actually referred to this blog post so I could remember exactly what I was told about insulin pumps and X-rays! Hopefully, this helps other people who had the same questions as me. 

“You have to remove your insulin pump before we can take your X-rays,” the technician said to me. I stared at him, and responded point-blank, “What? No, I can’t take it off.” I tried to hide the panic in my voice, but it quavered as tears stung my eyes.

“Well, let me check our insulin pump protocol…” his voice trailed off as he left me in the dark room with my right arm held up in the air in an attempt to mitigate the throbbing sensation going up and down my forearm.

Insulin Pumps and X-Rays_ What's the Protocol_
Here you can see an X-ray that shows where the break is (follow the yellow arrow), me looking miserable in the doctor’s office but still rocking my #insulin4all face mask, and my lovely new brace which I get to wear for 3-6 weeks.

When I fell and broke my ulna a couple weeks ago, my insulin pump was one of the last things to cross my mind as I was shuffled from doctor to doctor and one medical facility after the other. All I could concentrate on was the injury – how severe was it? Would I be able to work? Could I keep up my exercise regimen? Was I going to need surgery? My diabetes, for once, was far from my thoughts.

But this instantly changed when I went to get an X-ray. When the technician told me that I’d have to remove my pump, I wanted to shout at him, “No! If I do that, my blood sugar will skyrocket! You can’t expect me to do that!” It was hard to keep calm, and my emotions were already running amok due to the chaos of the morning so far. So even as I tried to fight the tears, a couple escaped and ran down my cheeks. When he came back into the room, the X-ray technician’s expression changed. He looked at me empathetically.

“It’ll be okay. Come on, let’s call your endocrinologist. We’ll see what she has to say and get this all figured out.”

Twenty minutes later, after a series of phone calls and a few accidental hang-ups, we received confirmation that I could, indeed, wear my pump for the X-ray. The nurse practitioner who I spoke with at my endo’s office said that it was safe as long as I wore the protective vest. “It’s really only a problem if you’re going in for an MRI or a CAT scan, because those involve magnets,” he told me.

Once I got off the phone, I ran over to the X-ray technician and explained it to him. He smiled at me and said, “Got it. Let’s get these pictures over with – you’ve already had quite a day so far.”

I nodded and thanked him for his patience. He was right, I was overwhelmed from the events of the day – it wasn’t even noon yet – but in hindsight, I’m glad that the technician didn’t try to fight me when I said I couldn’t remove my pump. His willingness to hear me out was huge. It’s not easy to be your own advocate in a high-stress situation like that. But I’m proud of myself for speaking up and getting the answers we needed. Everything worked out in the end – well, except for that pesky broken-bone bit.

 

One thought on “Insulin Pumps and X-Rays: What’s the Protocol?

  1. In the Medtronic world, Xrays and Metal detectors are fine are but body scanners, CAT-scans and MRI’s will void the transmitter warranty for the CGM. Protect the CGM at all costs.

    Like

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