Ralph Lee Huber (1889-1953) was an American Dentist and inventor.

Inventor of the Huber-point needle that later became known as the Tuohy needle. Primary aim of his non-coring needle was to reduce pain and trauma when injecting local anaesthesia for dental procedures.

Huber’s needle design was used by Edward Boyce Tuohy (1908-1959) for spinal catheter insertion through the needle to provide anaesthesia. Despite owning patent of the design Huber has little recognition in the original description of the Tuohy needle.

Huber had a flair for invention. He devised a system of three dimensional cinematography; enhancements to blood donation sets with sterile vacuum sealed storage; and a stethoscope which enabled pregnant women to listen to the heartbeat of their own foetus

  • Born on December 27, 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Trained as a dentist at the University of Oregon Dental School. Huber practiced dentistry in Seattle for over 30 years
  • During the war Huber provided the US army with numerous of his inventions and designs
  • 1943 – Invented his Huber-point needle [patented 1946 – US2409979A]
  • 1953 – Final hypodermic needle design patent [US2748769A]
  • Died on August 31, 1953 in Seattle, Washington aged 63

Medical Eponyms
Huber point epidural needle

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.

Originally designed to reduced pain when injecting local anaesthetic for dental procedures. Also known as a Tuohy Needle with Huber point

It is an object of the invention to provide a hypodermic needle ’embodying a construction such that only minor pain Will be experienced by the patient as the needle penetrates the tissue. Moreover, a needle embodying the present teachings may be thrust into position with minimum effort and also be readily withdrawn from that position.

An additional object of the invention is that of providing a hypodermic needle in which plug cutting, with resultant danger of embolism will, in effect, be eliminated.

Still another object vis that of designing a device of this type through which medicament may be readily injected into the tissues or veins of a patient with no danger of back-pressures being generated.

Accordingly, it will be feasible to employ needles, the bodies of which will have minimum diameters Without reducing the volume or speed of the `injection of medicament or Withdrawal of blood Still another object is that of furnishing a hypodermic needle which will be of simple and rugged design and which may be manufactured by quantity production methods at minimum expense.

Huber 1943

Major Publications


In 1946, Huber 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.

Controversy exists over whether Huber was in fact the creator of the now ‘Tuohy needle’ and was never properly referenced in Tuohy’s original work. Nonetheless, it was Tuohy that developed the use the Huber point for introduction of a catheter into the epidural space and his contribution to the development of continuous spinal epidural anesthesia cannot be disputed.



Eponymous terms



the person behind the name

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

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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