Catheter - Inventors

Inventors

A flexible catheter was invented in the Americas during the 18th century. Extending his inventiveness to his family's medical problems, Benjamin Franklin invented the flexible catheter in 1752 when his brother John suffered from bladder stones. Dr. Franklin's catheter was made of metal with segments hinged together with a wire enclosed to provide rigidity during insertion.

The modern application of the catheter was in use at least by 1868 when Dr. N.B. Sornborger patented the Syringe and Catheter (patent #73402) with features for fastening it to the body and controlling the depth of insertion.

David S. Sheridan was the inventor of the modern disposable catheter in the 1940s. In his lifetime he started and sold four catheter companies and was dubbed the "Catheter King" by Forbes Magazine in 1988. He is also credited with the invention of the modern "disposable" plastic endotracheal tube now used routinely in surgery. Prior to his invention, red rubber tubes were used, sterilized, and then re-used which often led to the spread of disease and also held a high risk of infection. As a result Mr Sheridan is credited with saving thousands of lives.

In the early 1900s, a Dubliner named Walsh and a famous Scottish urinologist called Norman Gibbon teamed together to create the standard catheter used in hospitals today. Named after the two creators, it was called the Gibbon-Walsh catheter. The Gibbon and the Walsh catheters have been described and their advantages over other catheters shown. The Walsh catheter is particularly useful after prostatectomy for it drains the bladder without infection or clot retention. The Gibbon catheter has largely obviated the necessity of performing emergency prostatectomy. It is also very useful in cases of urethral fistula. A simple procedure such as dilatation of the urethra and passage of a Gibbon catheter often causes the fistula to close. This catheter is also of use in the treatment of urethral stricture and, as a temporary measure, in the treatment of retention of urine caused by carcinoma of the prostate.

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