How are intermittent catheters measured?

Intermittent catheters are measured on the French or Charriere scale that is based on the external diameter of the tube. This is commonly abbreviated as FR or CH and will be listed on your catheter package.

Intermittent catheters with funnels typically use a universal colour-coding system to help determine what French size a catheter is. The funnel colour corresponds to its French size. For example, an orange funnel indicates a 16FR catheter.

In addition to different French sizes (diameter sizes), there are also different lengths of catheters:

  • Male catheters are usually 16 inches in length.
  • Female catheters range from 6 to 8 inches in length.
  • Paediatric catheters typically range from 6 to 12 inches in length.

There are some instances where females prefer to use male-length catheters. Women and children generally use shorter lengths because of their shorter urethra. You and your healthcare professional can determine together what size and length catheter may best suit your individual needs. Your doctor should take into consideration your preferences as well as your particular anatomy.

Learn more about how to determine what catheter size is right for you.

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