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 foley catheter and history

A Foley catheter is a tube that is put through your urinary opening into your bladder to drain urine. It is also known as indwelling catheter or bladder catheter. Foley catheters are made of soft rubber and have an inflated balloon at the tip. When catheter needs to be removed, your healthcare provider may deflate the balloon.The catheter is inserted through your urethra (the opening through which your bladder empties urine to the outside of your body) into the bladder. To keep the catheter in place, your doctor may secure the tube to your upper thigh or lower abdomen. When used by women, Foley catheters are secured to the thigh. The relative size of a Foley catheter is described using French units (F). The most common sizes are 10 F to 28 F. 1 F is equivalent to 0.33 mm = .013″ = 1/77″ of diameter.A Foley catheter can stay inside your bladder for days or weeks and your doctor will tell you how long you need to use it.

Frederic Foley was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1891. He studied languages at Yale University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1914, and then trained in medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine until his graduation in 1918. He subsequently worked with William Halsted and Harvey Cushing, and worked at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston on the junior surgical staff. Although there is no record of his training in urology, he was certified by the American Board of Urology in 1937. Foley worked as a urologist in Boston, Massachusetts and later became chief of urology at Ancker Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota. (Ancker hospital was renamed St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center and is now known as Regions Hospital.) He died in 1966 of lung cancer.

Foley first described the use of a self-retaining balloon catheter in 1929, to be used to achieve homeostasis after cystoscopic prostatectomy. He worked on development of this design for use as an indwelling urinary catheter, to provide continuous drainage of the bladder, in the 1930s. His design incorporated an inflatable balloon towards the tip of the tube which could be inflated inside the bladder to retain the catheter without external taping or strapping. He demonstrated this to the American Urologists Society in 1935, and published a paper describing it in 1937. While he was still developing his catheter, a patent was issued to Paul Raiche of the Davol Rubber Company of Providence, Rhode Island in 1936.

Four months later, in October 1936, Foley applied for the patent, and was awarded this after appearing before the patent office Board of Appeals. Raiche appealed this decision in court, and it was overturned, returning the patent to Raiche. A further request for a hearing made by Foley was refused, and so the patent stayed with Raiche.