New diabetes technology introduced first in Mid-South

A Memphis doctor is once again leading the way in cutting edge technology.

Dr. Kashif Latif is widely known as one of the top endocrinologists in the country. And last Friday, he brought a new way to monitor the blood sugar of diabetics to the Mid-South for the first time.

All diabetics have to keep track of their blood glucose levels.

Too high, and it poisons the blood. Too low, and the body's systems crash.

Both scenarios can be deadly.  And checking blood glucose with the traditional finger stick can be a pain.

Beyond the now old-fashioned finger sticks, continuous glucose monitors are available to keep up with blood sugar levels in real time.

But none quite like a new product called “Eversense.”

"Eversense is a continuous glucose monitor which is inserted under the skin, so it goes subcutaneously, and it continually monitors the blood glucose as long as it stays in," said Dr. Latif, who was about to perform the first implant of the sensor in his Bartlett AM Diabetes and Endocrinology Center.

After it's implanted under the skin, it stays there for 90 days.

All the while, a special transmitter is worn over the top of the sensor which reads the wearer's blood sugar levels through a special chemical reaction, and then sends that information directly to a smart phone second by second.

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"Now, it's real time. So, you, as a patient are having trouble with your sugars overnight, you just text us or send us your numbers in the morning and we take a look immediately.  So, this has brought the treatment as well as adjustment into real time – so it's a big leap forward," Dr. Latif said.

FOX13's Darrell Greene was the first patient to receive the implant in the Mid-South. Greene has been a Type-1 or insulin dependent diabetic since he was 23-years-old.

After figuring out where on the back of the upper arm the sensor should go, the procedure took only about 10 minutes.

First, the area was numbed. Then, after making a small 5-millimeter incision, the transmitter was snapped into place only 3-to-5 mm under the skin.

A small, lightweight transmitter is taped into place on the skin directly over the sensor.

After a 24-hour warm-up period, the sensor will begin to send real-time blood glucose readings to your smartphone.

Users will use those readings to see blood sugar levels at any time and either take insulin or eat to keep things in range with the goal of making wearers healthier diabetics.

The device does require care.

The transmitter must be charged daily for 15 minutes.  The transmitter, about the size of two half dollars stacked together, has to be reapplied to the skin daily, as well using silicon adhesive patches provided.

After 90 days, the wearer is alerted that the sensor is inactive. That sensor must then be retrieved by a qualified doctor who makes another small incision and pulls it out.

A new sensor is then implanted in another location on that or the opposite arm.

It's not cheap at a price tag of $1,700 per sensor.

Because of the relative newness of the product, major insurance companies are not yet covering the cost to the patient, but Latif told FOX13 that is likely to change soon.