Who Invented the Foley Catheter


Many inventions carry the name of the inventor with them and that is the case with the Foley Catheter. Invented by Frederic Foley, this catheter is a flexible tube that can be placed into the bladder by having it pass through the urethra. It is separated into two lumens. One allows the urine to flow into a collection bag. The other has a balloon which inflates with sterile saline so that it won’t slip out once it has been properly placed.

What is interesting about the Foley Catheter is that Frederic Foley doesn’t actually hold the patent for this technology. The patent belongs to Paul Raiche, who was working on behalf of the Davol Rubber Company. That doesn’t take away from the many inventions that Foley created over the years. Here is a look at his life’s work in urology.

1. The Foley Operation

The Foley Operation helps to correct a ureteropelvic construction. Part of the pelvis is advanced downward into a vertical position, which widens the junction and provides relief. He was the first to do this surgery, which helps to bring relief to those who are suffering from prostate cancer or other restrictive conditions that may restrict the urological functions.

2. Hydraulic Operating Tables

One of the most difficult aspects of surgery is to be able to approach a patient at the right angle to correct a problem. Foley recognized this immediately, but didn’t want to change the effectiveness of what a surgical table could provide. That’s when he came up with the idea of having a hydraulic operating table. By positioning the table with the patient on it to the best position for any given operation, a greater level of success could be achieved during the procedure.

3. The Rotating Resectoscope

The resectoscope is a medical instrument that allows a doctor to be able to see inside of a patient. It’s essentially an endoscope that is used a lot like a telescope. Foley realized that the best way to diagnose a patient would be to see the problems first-hand and that meant being able to see the lesions where they were developing. He also realized that he’d need a device that could rotate so he could get a full 360 degree view instead of a wide-angle, but static view. His invention has saved countless lives thanks to the early detection possibilities that it provides

4. Artificial Urethra Sphincter

Going to the bathroom is actually a lot like exercise. There are two sphincter muscles that help to retain and release urine from the bladder. When one of these is not working correctly, then the urine just comes straight out of the body when it has been created. By creating an artificial sphincter, Foley realized that some urological problems could be solved on a permanent basis. No longer would the urine escape from the body unwillingly or not be controlled involuntarily by the brain along the bladder wall.

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