What are Kelly Forceps?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 May 2020
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Kelly forceps, also called mosquito forceps, are a device used to grasp small objects. They are commonly used in the medical field both to grab items that are too large for fingers to get hold of, as well as to hold a single object so the hands can remain free to do other things. A common example of their use is during surgery, where the forceps may be used to hold back tissue to free the surgeon's hands.

Most Kelly forceps are made from high quality steel. Forceps are often doused in very hot water, cleaned with chemicals, and reused multiple times. This requires that the materials used in making them be durable and long-lasting. Some lesser grade metals may be used on occasion when the forceps will be used for non-surgical purposes. There may also Kelly forceps made from plastic that are designed for one time use.

The medical profession is the only arena where the term forceps is commonly used. Similar devices are used in everyday life all the time, and are referred to as tweezers, pliers, clamps, tongs, or clips. Unlike scissors, forceps are never referred to as a "pair of" and the singular and plural form of the word are the same.

Kelly forceps look a lot like a pair of scissors in design. Two handles are used to create a lever action, but instead of blades there is a blunted grip. The grip often has multiple grooves in it, and the entire device has a mechanism which allows it to effectively lock and grip tissue and blood vessels during routine procedures and surgery.

There are two main types of Kelly forceps, the second often being referred to as mosquito forceps. These are slightly daintier than the original model because they generally feature smaller tips. This makes them better able to grip small tissues, such as vessels. A similar device, although not technically defined within this category, the Carmalt, is usually heavier and has longer grips than standard Kelly forceps.

The name Kelly forceps comes from the name of the original manufacturer. There are currently multiple manufacturers with them in production today, and various new features may be added to enhance the convenience of their use. These may include things like double locking hinges, higher grade steel, and a tighter grip to improve performance.

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