In 2014, Abbott came forward with the Freestyle Libre, a Flash Glucose Monitoring System that revolutionised blood sugar testing for people with diabetes.
The Freestyle Libre eliminated the need for finger pricking while also providing real-time blood sugar data and trends. This was a major step up from the conventional blood sugar metres that were not capable of providing blood glucose trends.
Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM)
The Freestyle Libre consists of two components:
- Glucose Sensor
- Libre Reader
The Glucose sensor is a tiny wearable about the size of a coin. It features an adhesive patch that is used to attach the sensor directly to the skin. The sensor measures blood glucose through a tiny needle (0.4mm) inserted right under the skin. A single sensor lasts for 14 days, after which it has to be replaced.
The Libre Reader is a handheld device with a large screen that scans and records blood glucose data. Users have to place the reader about 1.5 inches close to the sensor to scan and record real-time blood glucose levels.
FGM vs CGM
The Freestyle Libre 1 shouldn't be mistaken as a CGM, as there is a subtle difference. The Continuous Glucose Monitors have the capacity to transmit blood sugar data automatically to a connected device. Whereas, the Freestyle Libre with its FGM technology requires the user to scan the sensor to record blood glucose levels.
Check video below comparing Dexcom (CGM) with Freestyle Libre (FGM). Please bare in mind that here we are talking about Freestyle Libre 1 and 2 (not Libre 3 which is a CGM).
To conclude, the Freestyle Libre achieved two major feats while making blood sugar testing simpler and easier.
It eliminated the need for finger-pricking and allowed people with diabetes to give their fingers a break.
It allowed for better controls by providing blood sugar trends and useful insights.
Thinking about alternative spots to use Libre? Check this Testing Alternative FreeStyle Libre Sensor Locations video.
Flash glucose monitoring: the story so far and the journey ahead - Thomas Simon James CrabtreeDepartment of Diabetes & Endocrinology, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, Derby, UK Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Derby, UK, 2021