We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a French Catheter?

By Lucinda Reynolds
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A French catheter is a small rubber tube that is inserted into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. This catheter can be left in place or immediately removed after the bladder is drained. If the catheter is left in place it will be attached to a drainage bag to catch the urine. French catheters are used mainly in a health care setting by qualified personnel.

The reason they are called French catheters is because they use the French catheter scale to determine the diameter size. This scale can be confusing to some individuals. A size in French units is roughly comparable to the circumference of a catheter in millimeters. The average catheter size used for adults is 16 French (5.3 mm or 0.210 inches) or 18 French (6 mm or 0.236 inches).

When a health care professional is inserting a French catheter into an individual it is important that a sterile technique be followed to prevent infection. In most cases, these French catheters come in a sterile kit that contains everything that is needed for an insertion. These kits will contain sterile gloves, lubricant, a sterile cleansing product, a pre-filled syringe, and the sterile French catheter.

Once the catheter is inserted it is held in place by inflating a balloon that is attached to the end of the catheter that is in the bladder. This balloon is inflated by injecting sterile water into a port that is attached to the side of the catheter tubing. The balloon can hold anywhere from five cubic centimeters (0.169 ounces) of water to 30 cubic centimeters (1.01 ounces) of water.

There are risks associated with the insertion of a French catheter. The biggest risk is a urinary tract infection. When a catheter is inserted it can carry germs into the bladder from the environment. A urinary tract infection can be serious for some individuals. Sometimes this infection can navigate to the blood stream and cause the individual to become very ill even to the point of death.

Another risk associated with a French catheter is an allergic reaction to the latex rubber the catheter if made of. Many people have allergies to latex and may not be aware of it. When a catheter is inserted into an individual with this allergy, the patient can develop a rash and swelling. The catheter should be removed and treatment for an allergic reaction started immediately.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Compcort — On Feb 15, 2015

I've heard the French designation placed prior to the integer, as in "French 14" catheter. What, if any, is the basis for the correct usage?

By Sequoia — On May 04, 2011

@Engelbert - Yes, it is used worldwide except in French speaking countries they call it Charrière, after the creator of the French catheter scale. He was a Parisian man, of course, who made surgical instruments in the 19th century. I guess the rest of the doctors of the world just got lazy.

By Engelbert — On May 03, 2011

So is the French catheter scale used worldwide?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.