Background: A variety of anticancer agents are better tolerated and more effective if given as continuous compared to bolus administration. Portable pump devices are needed to allow outpatient continuous infusion. Different types of portable pumps are available and we tested patient preference in a randomized crossover design.
Patients and methods: Patients on continuous infusion fluorouracil were randomly assigned to start treatment with an elastomeric infusor (Baxter) or a mechanical, electronically controlled pump (CADD-1, Pharmacia) and crossed over to the alternative model after three weeks. After exposure to both pump types patients were asked to indicate their preferred device.
Results: After 10 patients the study was closed because all study participants preferred the elastomeric pump (P < 0.01). Reasons were pump weight (100%), smaller pump size (89%), interference with daily activities (89%), user friendliness (56%), impact on sleep (44%), and lack of technical problems (22%). Although the mechanical pump required more handling time for the first two refillings, the learning curve suggested about equal time requirement thereafter.
Conclusion: In the interest of patient comfort, the disposable elastomeric infusor is an acceptable alternative to the more accurate electronically controlled pumps especially for drugs with a short half-life and a favorable toxicity profile.