Facebook Pixel

Innovative Device Monitors Glucose Levels Without Drawing Blood

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
Rate This

Innovative Device Monitors Glucose Levels Without Drawing Blood

glucowatch In 2001, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a device to measure glucose levels in adults with diabetes without drawing blood. The GlucoWatch Biographer provides frequent, automatic glucose readings by pulling fluid from the skin and measuring it. In 2002, the FDA approved the GlucoWatch G2 Biographer for use in children and adolescents over age seven.

How It Works

The GlucoWatch has two components: the AutoSensor and the Biographer. The Biographer is worn like a watch with the AutoSensor snapped into the back. The AutoSensor uses a very low electric current to pull fluid from the skin on the wrist and measure the level of glucose. The Biographer then calculates and displays the glucose level. These glucose readings are displayed up to every 10 minutes and are stored in an "electronic diary" that patients can review at any time. Each AutoSensor gives up to 13 hours of readings. The alarm alerts a patient when glucose levels are too high, too low, or likely to be too low within 20 minutes.

Not a Replacement for "Finger-Prick" Tests

People with diabetes who use the GlucoWatch will still need to perform finger-prick tests each day. In clinical studies conducted by the manufacturer (Cygnus, Inc.), the GlucoWatch measurements were generally consistent with results from finger-prick blood tests. However, about 25% of the time, the GlucoWatch readings differed from the blood test readings by more than 30%. Due to this margin for error, patients should not change their insulin doses or diets based on a single reading from the GlucoWatch. Patients need to confirm high or low readings with a finger-prick blood test.

Side Effects and Limitations

In at least half of patients, the GlucoWatch caused mild to moderate skin irritation on the wrist. In addition, the device was unable to measure glucose levels if the patient's arm was too sweaty.


American Diabetes Association

GlucoWatch Automated Hotline
1-866-GLWATCH (1-866-459-2824)


US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ .

Last reviewed December 2006 by ]]>Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH]]>

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!