What are Tenotomy Scissors?

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  • Written By: Adrien-Luc Sanders
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 February 2019
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Tenotomy scissors are a type of surgical scissor used to cut small tissues and maneuver in delicate areas. The name itself refers to surgical tenotomy, which involves partially incising, or cutting, through tendons. These scissors are characterized by extremely small blades with very large handles, which provide a steady grip while maintaining precision and allowing access to small areas. They may also be known as Stevens scissors or Stevens tenotomy scissors.

Surgeons may use thedr scissors for operations on difficult or small-scale areas, such as the eyelids, lips, and the brain. Urological, neurological, and ophthalmic procedures especially benefit from the size, shape, and delicacy offered by the narrow blades, although this type of scissor is a staple in nearly every surgical environment. They are commonly used for precision in surgical dissection and tissue transplants around difficult areas. Some of the sharper scissors are also capable of cutting small bone and cartilage in places like nasal cavities.

The average pair of Stevens scissors has blades exactly 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) long. The blades are either curved or straight. Tenotomy scissors with longer blades average 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) long, although larger and smaller variations are available. The most common material for for all surgical scissors is stainless steel, although some may be made of titanium or another durable metal that can be easily sterilized. The handles are usually coated with an oxidized material for easy identification and recognition in the surgical environment.


Both straight and curved blades are available in either blunt or sharp-tipped models. Curved scissors may be preferred by surgeons for the greater visibility and maneuverability offered by the design. The sharp-tipped scissors are useful for careful cutting, while the blunt tips may be used to dissect mucous membranes and other soft tissues. Other models may include a lighter design, a different style of handle, or specialized micro-serrated blades for a sharper cutting edge.

Tenotomy scissors are also widely used in veterinary practices, especially on small household animals. Many domesticated animals have smaller tissues and membranes than humans. This makes Stevens scissors useful for veterinary surgeries where smaller scissors are needed overall, rather than simply for more delicate areas.

This also makes them ideal for animal dissection in a laboratory environment — or in a biology classroom. Many students use either Stevens scissors or iris scissors in dissection projects, just as scientists use them to dissect and analyze animal tissue. Tenotomy scissors can also be useful in cutting delicate tissues during autopsy procedures.


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Post 3

@browncoat - I hadn't thought about it, but tenotomy scissors would have to be used in many surgeries involving younger patients, just because they are so much smaller.

Although, I imagine now many procedures are being done by keyhole surgery, and using robots guided by a surgeon. I don't think the same surgical equipment is used in that case, as they need to keep it as small and precise as possible and scissors, even tenotomy scissors might be too large.

Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I don't mean to play down the difficulty of being a vet, but I think they are quite well respected. A surgeon, on the other hand, has a much more, I would say, stressful job.

A vet would never take his charges lightly, I know, but imagine using tenotomy scissors on a child or even an infant. A human baby would be around the same size as a cat. Any surgery on him or her would require precision.

And if something goes wrong, the consequences are so much worse.

That's why doctors study for so very long on a single kind of anatomy. So that nothing will go wrong.

Post 1

I can see why veterinary surgeons would need to use this kind of medical scissors which have such careful control.

I can't even imagine the amount of precision that would be needed to operate on a domestic cat, as opposed to a human. Simply because the cat is so much smaller.

It's always amazed me that veterinarians aren't more highly thought of. Considering how many very different kinds of anatomy they have to study, and the difficulties in treating patients who aren't able to tell you where it hurts, they could be argued to have an even more difficult job than doctors.

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