J.-F.-B. Charrière: the man behind the "French" gauge

J Emerg Med. Nov-Dec 1987;5(6):545-8. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(87)90218-6.


Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière, a 19th century Parisian maker of surgical instruments, has by virtue of his ingenuity and advanced thinking, continued to have his presence felt in medicine throughout the 20th century. His most significant accomplishment was the development of a uniform, standard gauge specifically designed for use in medical equipment such as catheters and probes. Unlike the gauge system adopted by the British for measurement of needles and intravenous catheters, Charrière's system has uniform increments between gauge sizes (1/3 of a millimeter), is easily calculated in terms of its metric equivalent, and has no arbitrary upper end point. Today, in the United States, this system is commonly referred to as French (Fr) sizing. In addition to the development of the French gauge, Charrière made significant advances in ether administration, urologic, and other surgical instruments, and the development of the modern syringe.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • France
  • History, 18th Century
  • Metric System / history
  • Surgical Instruments / history*

Personal name as subject

  • J F Charrière