Metzenbaum scissors are a type of surgical tool typically used to cut delicate soft tissues. Not only are they the most commonly used scissors for cutting tissue, but they are designed only to be used for that purpose. Because of their specific function, they sometimes are called Metzenbaum dissecting scissors.
Clinicians use them in a variety of applications including dental, obstetrical, gynecological, dermatological, ophthalmological, and veterinary procedures. In fact, they are even mentioned in popular media, including on the television show M*A*S*H, and in the movie The Man With Two Brains.
They can be made of stainless steel or from other more costly materials. Metzenbaum scissors with tungsten carbide cutting edges generally provide a finer cut and last longer than the stainless steel ones. They usually are readily recognized by their gold-plated ring handles. The most expensive type usually is made from titanium.
The scissors come in various lengths, but all have a similarly distinctive look with a long handle or shank and a shorter blade. Some are available with reusable handles and disposable tips. Right- and left-hand models usually are available.
The blades can be curved or straight, but the tips always are blunt. Most Metzenbaum scissors ranges in length from 5.5 inches (about 14 cm) to 14 inches (about 35.6 cm). So-called baby scissors are only about 4.5 inches (about 11.4 cm) long, considerably smaller than the standard size. The baby size usually makes them more effective for the most delicate procedures.
Metzenbaum scissors resemble another type of surgical scissors, the Mayo scissors. There are significant differences, however. The scissors usually are lighter, have a longer handle, and have a more slender midsection than does the Mayo. Mayo scissors often are used for cutting sutures.These scissors could be dulled by such use unless the suture is very fine.
Sometimes called Metz, Metzenbaum scissors are named after the American surgeon who designed them. Myron Firth Metzenbaum, M.D., specialized in oral and reconstructive surgery. He is remembered not only for the scissors, but also for developing a method for resetting dislocated nasal cartilage in children. He also conducted early research on radium.