Bubble Puzzle

Why are bubbles still forming in my cartridges?

It not only Bigfoot cartridge—Bigfoot Spouse cartridge same issue. Pertinent bullet point:

  • Current vial insulin room temperature 8 days before fill cartridge
  • Spend Great Deal time flick, press out bubbles, examine by bright light until really, really sure cartridge look pure water, no fizz, no speck
  • Change cartridge every other day. More if Bubs crazy high

Over the course of 45 hours, several problem areas have developed. I included this picture in full size to illustrate the enormity of the bubble issue. Is the knot relevant? There’s not usually a knot.

Promise, promise bubbles not in cartridge when insert freshie into pump. Few hypotheses:

  • Some wrong thing with how Bigfoot attach luer lock? Always feel overly casual–no click. Just tighten as much as desired? Maybe this when air happen. Maybe not tight enough
  • Could be problem of fill 200u cartridge only 100u?
  • Too much back/forth with plunger while try purge air—>could introduce air?

Bubbles! Bigfoot wish eradicate bubbles.

This happy man recommend tap tap tap while load cartridge, tap tap tap while prime tubing AND/OR fill cartridge night before, purge air bubbles next day after bubbles have chance accumulate/merge. Hmmm. Bigfoot will try. Also like this tip from UK bubble discussion board: I just make sure that the pump is always upside down when in use so any air bubbles I’m unaware of float to the opposite end of the cartridge away from the entrance to the tubing <–bravo for clever! Would be good consideration for future Ping clip designer.



  1. Reyna · September 11, 2012

    Once the syringe is loaded with insulin…I kinda pull the plunger all the way back…the air bubbles seem to consolidate and then I flick the shit outta the syringe. Seems to work…gonna keep a closer eye on it now.


    • Linda · September 11, 2012

      I do this too, Reyna. While the insulin bottle is upside down on the cartridge needle I pull back farther than I need to, then flick it a bunch till the bubbles become more like one zen bubble, then ease the plunger/air up and out. Next, after I take the insulin bottle off, with the cartridge still vertical, I remove the needle, and if there are still bubbles, pull back a little again, flick flick flick, and ease plunger back up till I have a little round bump of insulin on top of where the tubing goes on. Attach tubing, still keeping cartridge vertical, lower into rewound pump, still vertical, prime pump, and only then let it stray from vertical. Seems like overkill but I don’t seem to have bubble trouble much.

      I didn’t know tubing ever clicked? If so, I do it wrong too. I just tighten it some. Like jar lid ring thing when canning. I do fill the cartridge completely, but I don’t think it should make any difference to put less in. I was taught to do it that way originally (less – 3 day supply only). Now I just let the full cartridge run for a whole week and change out the cannula every few days? Good luck figuring it out. So many bubbles in the picture – would worry me too!


      • Katy · September 11, 2012

        you people are blowing my mind. i can purge after the needle is off? this is going to make the quality of my cartridges so much better. i am going to take every drop of this advice. thank you.


  2. Katy · September 11, 2012

    Players, I looked at the cartridge before bedtime and felt so smart as I purged out whatever fizz and bubbles I could find. I disconnected the luer thing and pushed…OH NO! I didn’t have the pump load the cartridge to the new level. I’ll do that now. Crap. He just fell asleep.

    This operation used up about 30u.

    I think what I will do next time is fill the cartridge to capacity (200u) so I’ll have plenty to purge before bedtimes, and maybe get 3 days instead of 2 out of a site, possibly. Or at least not send B to bed full of bubbles.


  3. Linda · September 12, 2012

    So you are unscrewing the tubing to purge? Does that create a bubble when you screw it back together? Seems like it might… I only purge when filling the cartridge so that I prime right after and force any bubbles all the way through and out, if that makes sense. Not clear where all these bubbles are coming from in Bubs’ cartridge – spontaneously every day just a bunch of new bubbles in there? That’s kind of weird. What kind of insulin – Humalog, right? Same set up as mine but I don’t see continuing bubblage like that. Is there a CDE you could talk with about this? You’ve got me totally curious now.


    • Katy · September 12, 2012

      I need a CDE to watch me fill the thing & offer a play by play critique.

      Last night at bed time I unscrewed the tubing, purged bubbles, then re-primed because there was some fizz at the connection and I watched it all move up and out of the tubing as I primed. By 3AM there were BUBBLES AGAIN. Tiny bubbles. I’m sure this will make sense soon, and it will be obvious what we’re doing wrong, and we will laugh. But I hope we get to that laughing part soon!


  4. Scott K. Johnson · September 12, 2012

    I don’t think I’ve ever even really looked at my cartridge after loading it into my pump… I might have all sorts of bubbles too. But I’m also thinking that it may be more of an issue for little folks like Bubs because of how sensitive he is to insulin. Me? I blow through enough units in a day that it would take some serious bubblage to mess me up.


    • Katy · September 13, 2012

      Something to look forward to: insulin shooting out of the pump like water from a fire hose, and bubbles being completely beside the point. Thanks for brightening my outlook!


  5. Sara · September 15, 2012

    Here’s my step-by-step in case it helps.

    I usually change my cartridge/set after a shower so before I get in the shower I get the insulin vial out of the fridge. By the time I am clean it is close enough to room temperature.

    I connect all the pieces to the reservoir. Before I attach it to the vial, I loosen up the plunger a little. Basically, I push the plunger up an down and twist it a little inside the reservoir. There is a little bit of lubricant around the black rings that is good to spread around the sides of the reservoir.

    I make sure the plunger is all the way back so the reservoir is full of air. If you are not filling the reservoir make sure it has as much air in it as the insulin level you will be filling to. I insert the reservoir into the vial and push the air in.

    I flip the vial over so it is upside down on top of the reservoir. I pull back the blue plunger until it gets to the bottom (remember I fill all the way). There is a good amount (20 units at least) of air at the top of the reservoir. I push the plunger back in until all that air is back in the vial and then fill the rest of the reservoir again. Then I look for air bubbles and flick as necessary. Pushing the plunger to clear them and filling the reservoir again as necessary.

    When I take the needle off to attach the reservoir to the tubing there is always a drop of insulin at the top. I attach the tubing and follow the directions on the pump for the rest of the loading/priming process.

    Hope this helps!


  6. Pingback: Bright Side Err « Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes

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