Foregger Metric Flowmeter

WLMD ID: amdl
The Foregger Company introduced its “metric” flowmeter around 1925. In anesthesia, flowmeters measure the flow of medical gases, such as oxygen, nitrous oxide and air. They are used by the anesthesiologist to control the rate at which gases flow through the anesthesia machine, are blended together and delivered to the patient.

Before the advent of flowmeters, anesthesiologists had to estimate how much gas was flowing to the patient. Sight-feed flowmeters, or ‘bubble bottles,’ were a common method of estimation during the 1910s and 1920s. These directed gas through water held in a glass container. The rate of bubbling through the water provided a rough indication of the rate of gas flow. Foregger’s metric flowmeter allowed anesthesiologists to better control the amount of medical gases that they administered.

The flowmeter shown here was hand-calibrated for Dr. Paul Wood (1894-1963.) It may have been the first one Foregger ever made for the anesthetic gas, cyclopropane. It is an example of Foregger’s water manometer, also called a water depression flowmeter. Each tube was filled with water. As the flow of gas changed the water level in the tube , this was registered on an individually calibrated scale. While the idea was not new, Foregger was the first to apply the technology to anesthesia equipment. Foregger called its new line of equipment that incorporated these flowmeters, “Metric Gas Machines.” The company redesigned its flowmeters in the late 1930s. When Foregger introduced dry Rotameter-type flowmeters in 1949, the earlier models were called “Aquameters.”

Catalog Record: Foregger Metric Flowmeter

Access Key: amdl

Accession No.: 95

Title: [Metric flow meter] / Foregger.

Corporate Author: Foregger Company.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Metric flow meter for oxygen and cyclopropane.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Inside flowmeter.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Hydraulic flowmeter.

Publisher: [New York] : Foregger, [between 1935 and 1950?].

Physical Descript: 1 flowmeter : glass, metals, paint, rubber ; 27 x 12.5 x 7 cm.

Subject: Flowmeters – history.

Note Type: General
Notes: The title is based on text used in the 1926 and 1935 Foregger Company
catalogs. The date range for the possible year of manufacture is an estimate.
The early year in the date range is based on text in the 1935 Foregger
Company catalog: “A continuous demand for gas apparatus with a cyclopropane
flow meter started in November 1933 when the first announcement on clinical
experiences with cyclopropane came from Madison.” (pg 7). The end date is
based on the introduction of “outside” flowmeters sometime between 1937 and
1942, and on the lack of “inside” flow meters in the 1952 and 1956 Foregger
catalogs. The date range could change if documentation that indicates the
dates should be corrected is discovered.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Ball C, Westhorpe R. The water depression flowmeter. Anaesth Intensive Care.
1999;27(3):237.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Catalog 1926. New York: The Foregger Company, Inc.; 1926:3, 37-39.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Catalog 1935. New York: The Foregger Company; 1935:3-7.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Catalog No. 7. Roslyn, New York: The Foregger Company, Inc.; 1937.

Note Type: Not Applicable
Notes: Catalog No. 8. New York: The Foregger Company, Inc.; 1942.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Catalog No. 9. New York: The Foregger Company, Inc.; 1949:5-11, 36.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Catalog No. 14. New York: The Foregger Company, Inc.; 1956.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Foregger R. Richard von Foregger, Ph.D., 1872-1960. Anesthesiology.
1996;84(1):190-200. https://anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org/article.
aspx?articleid=1949462. Accessed June 30, 2015.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Metric Gas Machine. New York: The Foregger Company; [1938 or 1939?]:8-13.
[Describes the development of Foregger metric flowmeters and ntroduces the
“outside flowmeter”.]

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One water depression flowmeter with a metal ‘head’ and a glass jar that
contains the depression tube and the scales; The measurements and this
description are based on treating the ‘side’ in which the scales face the
observer as the ‘front’; The glass jar measures approximately 18.5 cm in
height and 5 cm in diameter; The scale is marked for oxygen (“O2”) on the
left and cyclopropane (“C3H6”) on the right, and both scales begin just below
the line marked “WATER”; Oxygen has numbered lines every 50 “cc” from 100 to
750; Cyclopropane scale is a little longer than the oxygen scale and has
numbered lines every 50 “cc” from 100 to 700; Hand engraved on the metal head
is the name “WOOD”; Stamped by the manufacturer on the metal head is
“FOREGGER”; The number “95” is hand painted on the metal head.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, January 12, 2015.

Note Type: Acquisition
Notes: Donated to the WLM by Paul M Wood, M.D.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: The Foregger Company introduced its “metric” flowmeter around 1925. In anesthesia, flowmeters measure the flow of medical gases, such as oxygen, nitrous oxide and air. They are used by the anesthesiologist to control the rate at which gases flow through the anesthesia machine, are blended together and delivered to the patient.

Before the advent of flowmeters, anesthesiologists had to estimate how much gas was flowing to the patient. Sight-feed flowmeters, or ‘bubble bottles,’ were a common method of estimation during the 1910s and 1920s. These directed gas through water held in a glass container. The rate of bubbling through the water provided a rough indication of the rate of gas flow. Foregger’s metric flowmeter allowed anesthesiologists to better control the amount of medical gases that they administered.

The flowmeter shown here was hand-calibrated for Dr. Paul Wood (1894-1963.) It may have been the first one Foregger ever made for the anesthetic gas, cyclopropane. It is an example of Foregger’s water manometer, also called a water depression flowmeter. Each tube was filled with water. As the flow of gas changed the water level in the tube , this was registered on an individually calibrated scale. While the idea was not new, Foregger was the first to apply the technology to anesthesia equipment. Foregger called its new line of equipment that incorporated these flowmeters, “Metric Gas Machines.” The company redesigned its flowmeters in the late 1930s. When Foregger introduced dry Rotameter-type flowmeters in 1949, the earlier models were called “Aquameters.”

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: Selected for the WLM website (noted March, 2015).