Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière

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Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière

Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière (March 19, 1803 – April 28, 1876) was a Swiss-born French manufacturer of surgical instruments.

Charrière was born in Cerniat, in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. He moved to Paris at age 13, and was apprenticed to a manufacturer of knives. In 1820 he founded a company manufacturing surgical instruments, which quickly grew to 400 employees by around 1840, and was world-famous by his death. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1843.

He developed and improved a number of instruments, especially hypodermic needles and catheters; the French catheter scale is named after his work. Several of his apprentices also became well-known instrument makers, including Georges-Guillaume-Amatus Lüer, Louis-Joseph Mathieu, and Adolphe Collin in Paris; Josef Leiter in Vienna; and Camillus Nyrop in Copenhagen.

He was inducted into the Legion of Honour in 1851, and died in 1876 in Paris.

Measuring unit[edit]

His name is used as a measuring unit for the outer diameter and the general size of urological instruments, endoscopes and catheters for a various purposes (1 Charrière = 1 mm outer circumference ~ 1/3 mm outer diameter). In English-speaking countries, the name "Charrière" was found difficult to pronounce. Thus, the term "French" was rapidly adopted in its stead. This portmanteau is now generally used as a measuring unit for medical catheters and introducers (1 French = 1/3 mm).


  • Urs Boschung (1987). "Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière". Les Fribourgeois sur la Planète. Die Freiburger in aller Welt. Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire, Fribourg. pp. 47–55.