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A straight hemostat usually looks very much like a small pair of cuticle scissors, but the end is blunted instead of sharp. This is because it is not used for cutting, but mostly for pinching off blood flow from an artery or vein during a surgical operation. Hemostats are also commonly used by people who need to move small objects around delicately. The pinching end of a hemostat can be either curved or straight.
The handle of a straight hemostat has two holes for fingers, and between them is a locking mechanism. Usually taking the form of interlocking teeth, the locking mechanism of a hemostat can be adjusted easily to allow the grip on an object to be loose or tight. Once locked, the user can then use both hands to accomplish another task, leaving the hemostat in place until it is unlocked.
Surgery is perhaps the most common situation where a person would use a straight hemostat. Once sterilized, a surgeon will use a hemostat to pinch off the flow of blood from a vein or artery until ligation is complete. The type of hemostat used often depends on a surgeon’s personal preference, or it may be determined by the limited amount of room in which a surgeon has to maneuver. The hemostat is not a modern invention — surgeons have used them for over 500 years.
Craftsmen may use a straight hemostat for moving small objects with finesse. For example, to assemble a model car, a hobbyist may use a straight hemostat to grasp tiny pieces which are difficult to hold with the fingertips. A fisherman might use a hemostat to tie or untie a lure. During a dissection, hemostats are often used to hold pieces of the skin or other organs apart for visual inspection of deeper areas. Also, the metal hemostat can be used as a heatsink when soldering electrical circuits.
Also known as arterial forceps or hemostatic clamps, hemostats are usually made of stainless steel, although there are some models that are made of other materials, or even gold plated. Stainless steel hemostats are typically used in surgery. For that purpose, they are sterilized in an autoclave before use. The use of hemostats in surgery may be for animals or humans, and a straight hemostat is often a staple of advanced medical kits, such as those used by emergency medical technicians or combat medics. Hemostats can range in length from 3.5 in (8.89 cm) to 18 in (45.72 cm) or longer, depending on the intended use.