Broken DexCom Wire

This is Caleb…

Sensor error.


Good numbers.

Return to top and repeat a few times.

Recurrent sensor errors.

Pull the sensor.

I think it was day six so my attitude about this oddly performing sensor was, “oh well”.

After I took it off I was examining Caleb’s skin and was rather in awe of the fact that it was looking really good. I brushed my fingers over the smoothness and felt a bump. It was the wire to the sensor. It had broken off not at the tip, but at the base so I was able to pull it out easily. I could see that the little silver end was intact and was confident that I had removed it completely.

I reported it DexCom. They took all the pertinent details, asked for a download of the receiver data and sent a prepaid package so I could return it.

I have since pulled another sensor from Caleb and verified that the length of the one that broke off was intact by comparing the wires.

I share this so that if you see a similar instance of ??? and/or sensor errors, you consider making sure the wire is removed completely, and if you suspect otherwise, seek medical assistance. I will likely examine every wire I remove from Caleb henceforth just to be sure.

Further to this end, I asked a couple of friends who I knew had similar issues to share their stories.

From Elizabeth Arnold (by the way, congratulations on your book!):

Yes, it happened to me a couple of times...Both times I was wearing the sensor in my arm, I inserted and got failed sensor warnings, and when I pulled the sensor out I could see the wire wasn't attached. I called Dexcom and they told me the wire would eventually work its way out, but so far (this was months ago) both wires are still in my arm. I'm assuming now that they're not going anywhere...
There were no infections and it didn't cause me any pain, but I'd heard reports that a few people actually needed surgery to remove the wires (I guess because of infection.) The one thing that bothers me is that when the discussion with the FDA took place, I believe Dexcom claimed it had only happened rarely (I think under 20 occurrences), and I can guarantee that if it happened to me twice (both times I reported to them) it's actually much more common than they're stating. I assume it's not all that dangerous or the FDA would be making a bigger deal out of it, but I don't like the idea of there being wires permanently lodged in my arm!
From Laura Houston:
Due to lack of real estate on Nate’s 2-year old body I thought I would try putting Nate’s OmniPod and DexCom sensor on his tummy. We normally use Nate’s tush for his pod and rotate the DexCom sensor back and forth between his arms. After I placed the sensor on his tummy I waited the 2 hours and put in the 2 bg checks and immediately received a sensor error, it was late, I was tired, I restarted the sensor. Two hours later, I repeated the process this time with success but the next day I just kept getting ‘off’ numbers and a lot of ???. I won’t lie I didn’t want to lose the sensor so I restarted once again only to repeat the entire scenario. I finally called Dexcom to report the problem, I uploaded the information and sent it to them for review and they told me to pull the sensor. I waited until Nate’s bath time to remove the sensor from his stomach and when I pulled it off there was no wire attached to the transmitter. I immediately called DexCom to report the problem and ask for some advice on how to handle the situation. I was completely blown-off by the CS representative and told that I must not have seen the wire fall out. I would have thought that too if it had not been for the hard, red knot where the sensor had been. I took Nate in to the doctor (for his regularly scheduled appointment) about a month later and it seems that the sensor is still in place but there in no sign of infection and we are hoping it just makes its way out on its own. Fingers crossed.
If you have had a similar experience, you are welcome to share it here.

I’ve had this happen a few times. Dexcom has always sent me a replacement. I’ve also had (on insertion) the metal come out the side of the plunger. I have called them about this and they have quickly sent a replacement. I’ve been using Dexcoms for almost 2 yrs and I’ve seen an increase in the ??? results even when the wire is in and malfunctions on the insertion. The best thing to do is to call them to make sure they know that they have a bit of a quality control issue and they can work on it. I still beleive in their technology and support the company. Sometimes when the technology is new we have to work with the company to improve the product. Otherwise, we will never get to a closed loop system for managing diabetes.

What type of metal is the wire?

I just had my first bad sensor…failed after about a half an hour in. The previous one had bled quite a bit and so I had off number for the first 12 hours or so…so i pulled up the side of the tape–and there was no sensor–I could see where the introducer needle had poked…but could feel no sensor.

I called dex and they said it had likely fallen out and I had not seen it cause it was so small and mailed me out a replacement. A few hours later I felt a little jab from my shirt–there was the sensor…somehow in the process it did not go in but popped out onto my shirt…only sensor error I’ve had since I started using the dex-which beats my medtronic experience hands down. And it is so much less traumatic…
I can evedn wear the whole seven days–my bosy never would handle a medtronic for more than the three ddays–thjese sites look much better after seven days than 3 days of the medtronic ever did.

Laura B - I agree. We also are still committed to DexCom and this will not deter us from using it and benefitting from the valuable information it provides. The CS reps are very helpful and kind. Had I known that the ??? and sensor errors might have been related to a broken wire, I might have pulled it sooner.

Gerri - I have no clue!

Denise - I’m glad you are having positive experiences. We have been using it for over a year and a half and this is the first wire issue we have encountered.

Gerri - “The sensor wire is made of both platinum and silver”

Thanks, Lo. That accounts for the cost.

Yes - that’s the first thing I thought too when I saw what it was made of.

When I heard about the broken wires I started to pull out the sensors in the direction of the needle that inserts the sensor. This is what DexCom recommends. If the wire stays straight at all times it will not break.