Edward Tuohy

Edward Boyce Tuohy (1908 – 1959)

Edward Boyce Tuohy (1908-1959) was an American anaesthesiologist.

Best known for his contribution to developing continuous epidural anaesthesia through the introduction of the needle to which he gives his name, the Tuohy Needle

Controversy exists over whether Ralph Lee Huber was in fact the original inventor of the now ‘Tuohy needle’ and was never properly referenced in Tuohy’s original work.

Although Huber intended this needle for IV and tissue injections, Tuohy recognized that the directional Huber point might facilitate placement of spinal catheters into the epidural space. In addition Tuohy added a stylet, to further decrease the risk of skin plugging. Tuohy’s contribution to the development of continuous spinal epidural anesthesia cannot be disputed.

  • Born on March 17, 1908 in Duluth, Minnesota
  • 1929 – Bachelor of Science degree, University of Minnesota
  • 1932– Medical degree, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1933 – Intern at the Mayo clinic in internal medicine.
  • 1935 – M.S. in Anesthesia, University of Minnesota – ‘A comparative study of the physiological activity of cobefrin and epinephrine‘; First physician in the USA to receive a Master of Science degree in Anesthesiology; consultant anaesthetist at the Mayo clinic
  • WW II – Served in the US Army Medical Corps in Washington DC and Battle Creek, then returned to the Mayo clinic
  • 1947 – Professor of anaesthesiology, Georgetown University School of Medicine; President of the American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • 1951 – Professor of anesthesiology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles
  • Died on February 2, 1959 following a cerebrovascular accident in San Marino, Los Angeles

Medical Eponyms
Tuohy Needle (1944)

Hypodermic needle (needle which enters the skin) designed in 1944, original for continuous spinal anaesthesia

Non-coring type needle with a transversely curved wall and side hole giving it a long, sharp, curved tip. Differs from a typical needle where the opening of the needle is at the tip of the needle itself. Has a directional tip which allows a catheter to be directed as it exits the needle, increasing the accuracy of it’s placement.

Tuohy introduced a ureteral catheter down a 15-gauge needle to administer epidural anaesthesia

In an effort to obviate the difficulty of the malleable needle becoming displaced, a new method of performing continuous spinal anesthesia was devised utilizing a ureteral catheter…It was my feeling that a number 4 ureteral catheter would be less traumatic to tissues than a needle (malleable) when it is left in position for the duration of an operation, and if the catheter was satisfactorily introduced into the subarachnoid space it would not become dislodged as easily as a needle. The hazard of breakage of the catheter during any portion of the procedure did not appear to be as great as that with a needle, because of the flexibility and mobility of the catheter.

Tuohy 1945


The Tuohy needle was designed for use in continuous spinal anesthesia since and was first popularized in 1945. In Tuohy’s original work, in 1945, he describes a 15-gauge needle with ‘Huber point’ but he makes no reference to origin of the ‘Huber point’

The term, however may be a misnomer with Ralph Lee Huber (1889-1953), a Seattle dentist being the original inventor of the needle. In 1946, he applied for a patent on a needle with a ‘transversely curved wall…end portion’. Huber made many of his inventions available to the US Army during the war, including the Huber point which was adopted by the Army in 1942 and it is possible that Tuohy first encountered the Huber point during his time in the US Army.

Major Publications



Eponymous terms



the person behind the name

Dr Lowri Bowen LITFL

Lowri Bowen. Mwynhau fy mhrofiad Awstralia, ond rwyf yn caru cymru yn fwy  | LinkedIn |

Dr David Raw LITFL Author

Dr David Raw BM BCh (Oxon) BA (Hons) FRCA PGCE MSc (Dist). Head of Department, Anaesthesia, Pain and Perioperative Medicine, Fiona Stanley Hospital | Twitter | LinkedIn |

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