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What are Curved Forceps?

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  • Written By: Patrick Lynch
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Curved forceps are instruments resembling scissors that can be used for grabbing ahold of instruments. They generally are used in the medical profession to hold several objects at once while the medical professional’s hands are otherwise engaged. The term "forceps" usually is used only within the medical profession. This tool typically is known as tweezers or tongs by the general public.

Curved forceps will come in locking or non-locking form. Locking forceps are usually hinged in the center and, as the name suggests, they lock onto objects and hold onto them tightly. Non-locking forceps are either hinged at one end away from the grasping part, or they are hinged in the middle like locking forceps. Forceps hinged at one end can be referred to as tweezers.

Kelly forceps are named after Doctor Howard Atwood Kelly, the first professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University. They are made of stainless steel and are different from scissors because they are blunt, whereas scissors would be sharp. They have a locking mechanism that enables them to be used as clamps. Regular or floor-grade Kelly forceps are not used for surgery, though they sometimes are used in veterinary procedures.

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Curved forceps that are used for surgery are made from high-grade carbon steel. The reason that high-grade carbon steel is necessary for surgical purposes is because the forceps can be sterilized repeatedly in an autoclave. A hemostat, also known as arterial forceps, is one of the most vital surgical tools available and is used in virtually every surgical procedure to control bleeding. After the initial incision, the forceps are used to keep blood vessels closed during the beginning of the surgery.

Curved forceps also can be used to help deliver a child. Obstetric forceps have two branches that are placed around the fetal head. If a delivery needs more rotation, then forceps with a sliding lock mechanism are used. In the United States and United Kingdom, short forceps are the preferred kind, because they are required when the fetal head is well down the maternal pelvis. Long forceps are used for a high-positioned head, but this practice is rarely used.

The used of curved forceps in childbirth is rare but is seen as an alternative to a Caesarean birth because forceps allow the child to be delivered more quickly. The negative aspects of forceps use during childbirth include nerve damage, bruising and possible skull fractures. These possible effects are why curved forceps are used sparingly for this purpose.

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