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What Are Reduction Forceps?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Reduction forceps are used to position and hold bone fragments in the treatment of fractures. In orthopedic surgery, doctors can use a range of reduction forceps. These surgical instruments are designed for reuse on multiple patients, and are produced by a number of medical supply companies. Accessories like plates that work with specific brands of forceps are also available.

Designs for reduction forceps can vary. Some have pointed tips while others may have balls or serrated grippers. They can open to varying widths and have locking mechanisms to allow a doctor to precisely control the opening angle. Once a pair of reduction forceps is in place, the surgeon can engage the lock to keep the tool there, which also allows for hands-free use.

In a simple use of reduction forceps, a doctor can use the tool to carefully pick out bone fragments while cleaning a fracture. The same tool can also be used to hold fragments in place while the surgeon fits a fixation device to keep the bone stable during the healing process. In a fracture where the bone snaps cleanly, a set or forceps or a matched pair can be used to manipulate the bone. Surgeons carefully pull, twist, and position the bone to line it back up, reducing the fracture so the bone can be set to allow it to heal.

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Some are designed for use in an open incision where the surgeon can clearly see the site. Others can be used blind, where the surgeon makes a small incision to introduce reduction forceps and manipulates the bone by feel. A portable X-ray machine in the operating room can provide instant feedback to help the surgeon determine whether the bones are in the right position. Once the fracture is fully reduced, the surgeon can pin it, if necessary, and cast it to hold the bones.

Surgeons tend to develop preferences for specific tools in their work as a result of personal experience. A doctor can call for a particular pair of reduction forceps after evaluating a case and developing a plan of attack. Some like to work with companies that provide sets of coordinated forceps, plates, and other tools that all work well together. Medical suppliers may provide samples for evaluation and testing to allow surgeons to explore their tools before purchase. This can be a useful promotional tactic as well, providing an incentive to switch suppliers by making doctors aware of new options.

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