French gauge

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

The French gauge (Fr) (also known as the French scale or system) is used to size catheters, and other instruments, in interventional radiology and surgery. In some parts of the world, the Charrière (Ch) is used as the name of the unit, in honour of its inventor. 

French sizing

The French system is simple, one increment on the French scale is equal to 1/3 millimetre, e.g. 8 Fr catheter is 8 x 0.33 mm = 2.67 mm in calibre. 

Unlike the needle gauge system, the French system has no set lower or upper limit, and users generally find it a lot less confusing, as the French size is proportional to the diameter.

Some common French sizes with equivalent metric diameter and circumferences:

  • 3 Fr is 1 mm (diameter) and 3.14 mm (circumference)
  • 4 Fr is 1.33 mm and 4.19 mm
  • 5 Fr is 1.67 mm and 5.24 mm
  • 6 Fr is 2 mm and 6.28 mm
  • 7 Fr is 2.33 mm and​ 7.33 mm
  • 8 Fr is 2.67 mm and​ 8.34 mm
  • 9 Fr is 3 mm and​ 9.42 mm
  • 10 Fr is 3.33 mm and​ 10.47 mm
  • 12 Fr is 4 mm and​ 12.57 mm
  • 14 Fr is 4.67 mm and​ 14.66 mm
  • 16 Fr is 5.33 mm and​ 16.76 mm
  • 20 Fr is 6.66 mm and​ 20.94 mm 

History and etymology

Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière (1803-1876) 1,2, a renowned Swiss-French surgical instrument manufacturer invented the French scale in 1842. 

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Article information

rID: 59517
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • French scale
  • French (Fr)
  • French (F)
  • French (FG)
  • Charrière (Ch)
  • Charrière
  • French system

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