French catheter scale

French catheter scale

The French catheter scale (most correctly abbreviated as Fr, but also often abbreviated as FR or F) is commonly used to measure the outer diameter of cylindrical medical instruments including catheters. In the French Gauge system as it is also known, the diameter in millimeters of the catheter can be determined by dividing the French size by 3, thus an increasing French size corresponds with a larger diameter catheter. The following equations summarize the relationships:

D(mm) = Fr/3 or Fr = D(mm)*3

For example, if the French size is 9, the diameter is 3 mm. Note: the French scale is equal to the diameter in mm multiplied by three, not the circumference (diameter times π) as is sometimes thought.

This is contrary to needle-gauge size, where the diameter is 1/gauge inches; thus the larger the gauge needle, the more narrow the bore of the needle.The Stubs Iron Wire Gauge system is also commonly used in a medical setting and is in fact more common for measuring needles, even though many find the Stubs system to be more confusing because the scale is non-linear and inversely proportional.

The French Gauge was devised by Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière, a 19th century Parisian maker of surgical instruments, who defined the "diameter times 3" relationship.

See also

* French catheter scale chart

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