• Anthony You

Catheter French Sizes

Have you ever wondered why urinary catheters have French sizes? What’s that about?


It all has to do with the 19th-century French manufacturer Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière. He improved and manufactured medical supplies such as hypodermic needles and catheters.


His company originally called them Charrière sizes, but English speakers found that term difficult to pronounce. I guess we’re lucky.


Figuring out the right French (Fr) size for you is one of the most important things to do when you start using catheters. Let’s go into catheter French sizes so you have a firm understanding.


How to think about French sizes?


Charrière, the French manufacturer, defined the circumference of a catheter as 3 times that of its diameter in millimeters (mm). A 12 Fr urinary catheter would end up being 4 mm in diameter.


Catheter sizes vary from 6 FR up to 24 FR. This makes them available even for pediatric users. The ideal size for them varies from 6 FR to 10 FR. While the suitable size for an average adult woman ranges from 14 FR to 16 FR. Average adult men, on the other hand, may have 14 French to 18 French size catheters.


For easy identification of sizes, catheters have a color-coded funnel. Universal color-coding helps a patient easily determine the sizes. It also helps to lessen the trouble and confusion many have when purchasing a catheter. These are the colors and their catheter FR size on the French catheter scale:


  • 5 FR: White

  • 6 FR: Green

  • 8 FR: Blue

  • 10 FR: Black

  • 12 FR: White

  • 14 FR: Green

  • 16 FR: Orange

  • 18 FR: Red

  • 20 FR: Yellow

  • 22 FR: Purple

  • 24 FR: Blue



With all of the technical stuff out of the way, you may be asking “What does this mean for me?”


The Importance of Choosing the Right French Size Catheter


Choosing the correct French size catheter for you will help ensure comfort. But most importantly, it ensures efficient performance in draining.


Intermittent catheters with smaller French sizes are relatively easy to insert and can be less painful. They may make the urine flow slower and make it harder to control. Urine from the bladder tends to escape through and around the tube. Thus, they become inefficient in bladder emptying - and messy with all that urine leakage.


Larger intermittent catheters may make catheterizing more difficult and painful. The larger the diameter, the harder they may be to insert into the urethra. This is especially true when you are self-catheterizing. It may cause minor trauma or irritation in the urethra, making it painful even to try again. You will likely pass the urine more quickly and with less leakage.


There are tradeoffs when you select catheters outside the French size that is right for you. For this reason, it’s helpful having our team support you.


Remember always to ask a health professional regarding catheter sizes. You cannot just pick up the largest one because you think they are more efficient than the others. You also need to make sure that it fits you comfortably.


Catheter Lengths


Aside from the French sizes, catheters also have varying tube lengths. These tube lengths are measured in inches. This length suits various ages and genders. Pediatric catheters have an ideal length of 10 inches. For women, it ranges between 6 to 8 inches. While those for men or those that are considered unisex can be up to 16 inches long.


Catheters for men typically have longer lengths because of the distance from the urethra. Female catheters range between 6-8 inches and Male catheters are usually 16 inches and longer.


Where to Buy High-Quality Catheters


If you are using a catheter for the first time, it may sound a bit overwhelming. Aside from the pain, you will also worry about the quality of the product. And yes, you should not compromise. Inferior quality catheters may increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection. This will only add to your burden. You should always consult with healthcare professionals and choose only the best products.


That’s why we at Summit Xpress Medical work to provide patients with high-quality and trustworthy brands. We have a wide variety of incontinence products and supplies, including catheters. You have the freedom to choose among our top brands.


We even offer you the best choice for travel-friendly and discrete products for your self-catheterization. Our commitment to industry standards will give you peace of mind that you are getting only the best.


We have product specialists who will help find the best and the right French size urinary catheter for you. All you have to do is to give us a call. We will even verify your insurance for you because all we want is for you to enjoy and live your life with fewer worries.


© 2010 Summit Xpress Medical Supply

303 Linwood Avenue Suite 1D Fairfield, CT 06824

Tel: 800-219-4301

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Yelp Social Icon