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Emile Coudé, 1957
The Coudé Catheter is a catheter with a curved tip, used in urology to facilitate insertion of the catheter tube through the urethra into the bladder. The Winter 1957 edition of The Leech, the journal of the students' society of the Welsh National School of Medicine at Cardiff, contained a brief biography of the Coudé Catheter's alleged inventor, Emile Coudé.
According to the article, Coudé (1800-1870) was born the son of a French country doctor in the town of Villeneuve-la-Comtesse. In 1832 he accepted a post of assistant surgeon at Niort, and it was here he invented the catheter that bore his name:
A woodcut picture of Coudé accompanied the article.
Soon after this, details of Coudé's biography made their way into Sir Hamilton Bailey's textbook, A Short Practice of Surgery. However, while the textbook was in galleyproof, but before publication, Bailey realized that, although the article in The Leech about Coudé was "written in a serious and restrained vein" it was actually "a fabrication."
Bailey submitted a letter, co-signed by W.J. Bishop (editor of Medical History) and A. Clifford Morson (President of the Societe Internationale d'Urologie), to both the British Medical Journal and the Lancet, protesting the deception. He noted that several pages of his book "had to be reset in so far as the capital C of Coudé is concerned, and biographical footnotes to Emile Coudé deleted." He also sent the letter, he said, "to save others from falling into this mire."
Bailey's letter prompted a reply, a week later, from a correspondent identifying himself as Hercule Coudé, grand-nephew of Emile:
Raphael Pash, author of the original Leech biography of Coudé, also sent a letter to the Lancet arguing, "I feel that to call the article a 'deception' or 'hoax' is unfair. None of the Cardiff students did anything to bring the article to the attention of anyone connected with A Short Practice of Surgery."
The curved-tip catheter was actually invented by the Paris urologist Louis Mercier (1811-1882). Coudé is a french word that, as a noun means 'elbow,' and as an adjective means 'bent'.
Links and References
- Coudé Straightened Out. (Aug 23, 1958). The Lancet. 272(7043): 424.
- "In England Now." (Aug 30, 1958). The Lancet. 272(7044); 456.
- Coudé Straightened Out. (Sep 6, 1958). The Lancet. 272(7045): 526.
- Jarcho, Saul. (1959). "Some Hoaxes in the Medical Literature." Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 33: 342-347.
- Cockett, A.T. & Cockett, W.S. (Nov 1978). "Case Against the Catheter: Emile Coudé." Urology. 12(5): 619-620.
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