Sounds and Charrière: The rest of the story

Diana K. Bowen, Julian Wan, Rainer Engel, Richard P. Lyon, Elodi Dielubanza, David A. Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Parisian cutler Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière (1803-1876) contributed greatly to surgical disciplines with innovative tools, but his legacy is the gauge system he developed in 1842 that is still used for catheters, probes, and dilators. Sounding devices have been documented in the surgical armamentarium since 3000 BC, with practitioners such as Hippocrates, Galen, Celsus, and Al-Zahrawi espousing theories on sounding and the related topics of stones and urinary obstruction. The medical revolution in 19th-century Paris propelled technology and one of the most influential men involved was Charrière, who pioneered diverse technical processes in the manufacturing of surgical instruments, led one of the largest instrument manufacturing companies, and improved on tools introduced by predecessors including his mentor Guillaume Dupuytren. Most importantly he created the catheter scale that, despite not being favored in its country of origin, became an international standard and is known today as the French system. The classification of sounds, catheters, and bougies has undergone many variations throughout the years, but the French scale still holds in current medical practice as an accurate and nearly universal sizing tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1110
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Catheter scale
  • Charrière
  • History
  • Urethral sounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Urology


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