Wednesday, May 03, 2006

24 French

Some modes of measurement are hard for me to comprehend. With shotguns, the smaller the gauge, the larger the bore. With lumber, a 2x4 is 1-3/4 x 3-3/4. There is a method to their madness, I suppose. However, when it comes to gastrointestinal tubes, I had to do some research.

With one of my patients, we had to reinstall the g-tube twice within the last week. The first replacement was sized 28 French. That had to be removed and replaced because the stomach to skin surface length was too short. The second style (a Kimberly-Clark!) that we had chosen was 24 French. This particular model offered from 14 French on up to its largest, the 24 French.

I just had to know the medical etymology of the French sizing. To summarize my extensive study, since the French are famous for running and 24 French will run even faster than 14 French, an observant British doctor decided to name the g-tube sizes after them. A 24 French g-tube will move fluids more rapidly than a 14 French sized. (That British physician, Dr. Lord Humphrey Taggert, had such a successful practice that Sir Winston was able to shorten his last name to 'Church'.)

Gastrointestinal tube-sizing language and metering are intuitively understood within the medical and lay communities; no Greek, no Latin. A wise choice of technical vernacular.

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