What Are Forceps with Teeth?

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  • Written By: Nicky Sutton
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Forceps with teeth are used during medical procedures to grip onto tissues to make them easier to handle. Toothless forceps are generally used to tie sutures and grip needles. The teeth on the tips of toothed forceps interlock to grip tissues, and can be pointy or flat depending on the amount of grip needed and the sensitivity of the tissues. The teeth also vary in size and angle depending on tissue type and procedure, such as larger teeth for a laparotomy wound and smaller teeth for use on delicate tendons.

These surgical tools can be used during surgery for gripping sutures or biological tissues, or for manipulating needles. Forceps provide pinpoint accuracy and grip during delicate and intricate operations, where fingers do not have enough grip. There are two general types of forceps; those with teeth at the tips and those with smooth tips. Smooth forceps are used for delicate tasks, and forceps with teeth are generally used for gripping onto tissues such as skin, blood vessels or muscle.

The teeth, positioned on the tips of the forceps, interlock with those on the opposing tip. These teeth grab onto biological tissues to prevent them from slipping from the surgeon’s grasp. Forceps’ teeth, sometimes called mouse’s teeth, come in different shapes, sizes and angles, depending on the procedure. The forceps with teeth are designed and manufactured specifically for professionals in different areas of the medical profession.


Pierse forceps have teeth with flat edges that prevent piercing of the tissues, to cause less damage. These forceps however, do not grip as well as others. Pointy teeth set at right angles, as seen on Harman Bishop forceps, or the forward angled teeth of the Castrviejo forceps, provide excellent grip during dissection and surgical procedures. Trauma, tearing and bleeding are more likely to occur however, with pointy teeth.

Choosing the incorrect type of forceps for surgical procedures can cause unnecessary damage to tissues. Heavy duty large teeth grip onto tough tissues but will tear finer tissues. Tougher tissues like skin require forceps with larger teeth that provide better grip while applying less pressure. Gripping tendons requires the use of forceps with teeth, but the teeth must be small so not to cut the tendons. The use of forceps with teeth is usually inappropriate on fine tissues such as blood vessels or bile ducts. Forceps with special ridges or grips should instead be used on these very fine tissues.


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