...A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON
I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for over 20 years. I started with multiple daily insulin injections & transitioned to a Minimed insulin pump in 2000, which made my life easier.
In 2011, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to wear my very own CGMS (Continuous Glucose Monitoring System), the Dexcom Seven Plus! I immediately fell in love with the feeling of safety in being able to know my glucose trends at all times. And it was a wonderful relief from having to checking my blood sugar 6-10 times a day! My fingertips were grateful!
I thoroughly enjoyed this new "luxury," but I also longed for the day when I could carry only 1 medical device at a time. The most ideal situation would be to have an integrated CGMS system with my insulin pump. I love my Medtronic pump, but at the time, Medtronic had a poor reputation regarding the reliability of their sensors, so I settled for carrying 2 devices & waited patiently for the next generation of Medtronic’s sensors to be released. I waited & I waited, for years.
I needed a new transmitter for my Dexcom, so I upgraded to the Dexcom G4. Within days after Dexcom shipped me my G4 & new sensors, Medtronic finally announced the FDA approval of their latest & greatest sensor! Thankfully, my health insurance company approved for me to order the new Medtronic Minimed’s Enlite Sensors, even though I had just received the newest Dexcom system.
Due to a host of health problems in 2013, my medical expenses were so great that I met my high out-of-pocket maximum, which meant I was able to receive all of my diabetic supplies for FREE for the last few months of the year. Dexcom was not allowed to accept returns for my unopened boxes of sensors, so I had the privilege of trying both brands of continuous glucose monitoring systems!
Having the opportunity to wear sensors from both Dexcom & Medtronic has granted me a unique position to be able to critique both brands. I’m impressed by both companies & am extremely thankful to be living in the 21st century where brilliant minds have produced innovative devices that make living with diabetes manageable.
Most of my experiences with their customer service departments have been positive, even in emergencies on weekends & holidays. Each company's products have advantages & disadvantages, so I hope this comparison helps you determine which device is best suited for you.
***FYI, I’m not affiliated with either of these companies.
For more info about Continuous Glucose Monitoring, please read:
ONE DEVICE THAT EVERY DIABETIC NEEDS!
|PROS OF DEXCOM G4||PROS OF MEDTRONIC ENLITE SENSORS|
|Sensor readings are often exactly or very close to my glucometer readings, with little or no time delay supposedly expected from measuring interstitial fluid.||Transmitter lays flat & is mostly discreet, except when wearing white or thin shirts.|
|When calibrating (entering a blood sugar reading from a glucometer), there is no delay in processing the info & any corrections are immediately made, i.e. the screen displays the new, updated reading.||Can easily review results for the past 24 hours on the home screen, without having to upload it to your computer.|
|Approved to be worn for 7 days (& it usually works well for about 2 weeks).||Easy to see the time of the last calibration & the time for the next required calibration, allowing you to plan ahead & also avoid overloading the system with too many calibrations.|
|User friendly software & simple graphs that make it easy to analyze trends. I especially appreciate the Hourly Trend Chart, which is easy to read & can be set for specific dates.||When needing to analyze data, the info is uploaded online to Carelink.com vs. to your computer. This allows you to easily access your info remotely at your dr’s office & is helpful when troubleshooting with the customer care team.|
|Calibration is typically only needed twice a day, when waking up & at bedtime.|
|Works up to 20 feet away, so it keeps working if you leave the receiver in another room. (This isn’t a necessary component for Medtronic because you will be connected to the pump at almost all times, which is the sensor receiver.)|
|CONS OF DEXCOM G4||CONS OF MEDTRONIC ENLITE SENSORS|
|Difficult to determine exact time & sensor readings on the home screen. The graph is vague & hard to read.||Not as much confidence in the Enlite Sensors due to inconsistent results & frequent calibration & sensor errors.|
|Past data is limited on the receiver. Only displays a graph for the past 24 hours, which are not specific readings. Have to upload to your computer to see specific results. Also can’t quickly determine when the current sensor session was started without uploading to a computer.||Unnecessary interruption of sleep due to false alarms (i.e. being woken up with the sensor showing you’re 60 when your glucometer shows you’re actually 95).|
|Due to the greater transmission distance, the G4 transmitter is thicker & lays higher off the skin; therefore, the shape can show thru shirts on thinner people. (The Dexcom Seven Plus wasn’t as tall, but the transmission distance wasn’t as far.)||When there is a discrepancy between the sensor reading & the glucometer reading, it does not immediately learn from the calibration & quickly correct itself. It slowly processes the calibration & can take hours to adjust. Therefore, the reading on the screen is sometimes not up-to-date or reliable.|
|The G4 sensor adhesive often starts to peel off after about 3 days, so it needs an overlaying tape. Occasionally the adhesive lasts for over a week on its own. You can cut a rectangular hole in the middle of IV 3000 1-Hand tape & use it to hold down the Dexcom adhesive. (This new issue is probably due to the increased size of the transmitter. It isn’t a big deal but just an extra step & small cost to consider.)||Because the sensor does not immediately adjust itself when there is a discrepancy between the sensor reading & the glucometer reading & it often takes a long time for the screen to have an updated reading, the system continues to alert you unnecessarily for highs or lows that are not real. These ongoing unnecessary notifications get annoying. (The notifications can be temporarily turned off, you just have to remember to turn it back on & hope that if you turn it off during sleep, you won’t miss an important notification based on reality.)|
|Can’t tell when the last calibration was or when the next one needs to be. It tells you at the time that you need to calibrate, without warning. So, it’s best to calibrate before bed so you aren’t woken up by any alerts.||Only approved to be worn for 6 days (occasionally it will last a little over a week).|
|Disappointing carrying case. Like a smartphone, the Dexcom G4 feels too vulnerable & expensive to use without a case. But, the only case available has a flip cover, which is slightly cumbersome. (The Dexcom Seven Plus case was more practical; if you were wearing it on your waist, you could easily glance at the screen.)||With uploading data to Carelink, you can’t easily look at exact dates. This is very frustrating. Sometimes I need to look at my trends starting with the date that I last adjusted my basals, which may be 6 1/2 weeks ago, but viewing 4 or 8 weeks is the closest option. And, it will only let you analyze the sensor’s data for hourly trends for 1 week at a time.|
|Can’t turn off backlight; have to wait for it to time-out, which can be bothersome when trying not to wake-up your spouse or disturb people in a movie theatre, etc. (You can simply turn it over or close the case to dim the light.)||The Threshold Suspend option is a great idea that allows the pump to be automatically suspended in an emergency, but it can’t be set lower than 60. Therefore, if you have this feature activated, every time you go lower than 60, the pump alarms & suspends. If you have treated your low blood sugar & are waiting 15 minutes for it to rise, then you have to keep overriding the alarms & suspension. Plus, even if your blood sugar has come up, your interstitial fluid reading thru the sensor may inaccurately show you’re still low. It would be great to benefit from this Threshold Suspend feature in case of an emergency, but there needs to be an option to have a limit lower than 60 to make the feature practical for everyday use.|
|The buttons are designed to work after pushing them once but you often have to push them twice before the system responds.||Calibration is recommended 3-4 times/day.|
|When you have started a new sensor or restarted an old sensor, you can’t look at the screen anymore to determine how old the last sensor was. (You can see this info if you upload the data to your computer.)|
|Sometimes an overlaying tape is needed, such as IV 3000.|
Bottom line, if you’re NOT on an insulin pump & NOT planning on getting on one,
I recommend the Dexcom G4 Platinum, hands down! It’s a sleek product that provides consistent results that you can rely on.
If you have an insulin pump or are planning on getting on one in the near future, then you will want to consider the Medtronic Enlite Sensors in conjunction with the Medtronic Insulin Pump. This route will enable you to avoid wearing a pump plus carrying an extra CGMS device. You would still have 2 small attachments secured to your skin, but only 1 device/screen/receiver, which would already be connected to your body at all times.
Most people want to carry the least amount of devices possible. But, the luxury of having all of your info displayed on 1 device may come with a downside. If your experience ends up being anything like mine, you will need a lot of patience to deal with the kinks of the Enlite sensors. If you choose to only have 1 device by going with the Medtronic sensors, you might have to settle for less accuracy & reliability. I wish financial competition wasn’t an issue & these two amazing companies would join forces & learn from each other in order to perfect their products.
If your number 1 priority is to have the most accurate sensor available, stick with the Dexcom G4. You’ll be amazed & won’t be disappointed!
Thanks for reading! Hopefully this info I compiled was helpful for you. If you benefited from this review, please email this link to your friends & family with diabetes.
I’d also love to hear your comments or questions. What are your fears about starting on a CGMS? If you wear a CGMS, what do you love or hate about it that I didn't mention? What features do you hope the companies will develop in the future?