What are the Different Types of Scalpel Blades?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2019
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There are many types of scalpel blades, including stainless steel blades, disposable blades, and reusable scalpels. Other types of blades include retractable and obsidian scalpels. Each of the various blades have qualities that makes them distinctive. Different blades are required for various surgical procedures.

Disposable scalpel blades are cost effective, however, they can only be used once before being being thrown away. Many of these inexpensive blades are made of plastic, although some are constructed of stainless steel. One of the benefits of using disposable blades is there is no need for disinfecting after use, as they are immediately discarded. These types of blades do not require sharpening.

Stainless steel blades are most commonly used in operating rooms. These blades are constructed for extreme durability. Carbon steel is a variation of stainless steel, and these blades will typically have a convex cutting surface. Many of these blades have a ribbed surface as well.

Another type of scalpel blade typically used for performing autopsies is known as a trimming knife. This blade is extremely sharp so it can be used to section and dissect tissue and flesh. These blades may come in long varieties or a shorter length. Some are designed for right-handed use, while others enable left-handed use.


The purpose of a retractable blade is to ensure safety for the surgeon. Retractable blades offer protection from injury by employing the use of a button. This button allows the surgeon to lock or release the blade as necessary. A retractable blade may be available in disposable or reusable forms.

Obsidian scalpel blades are generally more expensive than stainless or carbon steel, are reusable, and require occasional resharpening. The main advantage of an obsidian blade is that it has a sharper, more precise cutting edge. This type of blade also ensures less scarring when used during during surgery. Another benefit of the obsidian blade is that it causes fewer allergic reactions than other types of scalpels. In some cases, stainless steel or other metals can cause reactions in allergy-sensitive patients.

Many individuals who are hobbyists involved in various crafts use scalpels. These specially designed blades tend to be thin and shaped like a pencil. The scalpel itself is typically flat and narrow with a pinpoint tip. Such scalpels are used for pottery making and other crafts that involve clay.

Micro-dissection blades are typically used for procedures that require microscopic dissection. These are precision-made, extremely sharp, and durable. Stainless steel is generally the metal that is preferred in this type of blade.


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