Surgical instruments are tools typically designed with the intent of aiding medical staff during medical procedures. Certain instruments are used in almost all types of surgery. These may include surgical scalpels used for making incisions in bodily tissues, or instruments such as retractors that hold open a part of the body, thereby allowing the doctor to perform the necessary work. Other instruments are specifically designed for a particular type of operation and are used only in these situations.
Almost all surgical instruments have a long and varied history within the medical sciences. Evidence for their use by humans has been traced back to the Stone Age. The continued development and refinement of these tools is a factor in the increasing success of surgical procedures, allowing for a wider variety of surgical procedures to be performed. The large number of different types of surgical instruments is a result of the radical range of problems that may confront a patient and medical personnel. Different types of instruments play specific roles in the surgery process and are used by the doctor and medical team according to the demands of a situation.
Two of the most common surgical instruments are forceps and scalpels. Forceps are used for grasping, particularly in the case when the hands are unable to hold miniscule objects. Forceps may also be used to grip various tissues, while the doctor uses her hands to perform another aspect of the surgery. There are many different types of forceps, however all of them have this same basic dual function.
Scalpel blades are an extremely common surgical instrument that is used to make incisions in the skin and tissue of a patient. Surgical scalpels typically are small, yet extremely sharp, and consist of two parts: the blade and the handle. The blades are usually replaceable, while the handles are mostly reusable. There are also many different types of scalpels, such as the lancet which has a double-edged blade. With the advancement of technology, many times scalpels can be replaced by lasers.
Other surgical instruments, such as sealing devices, usually are used upon conclusion of surgery. These sealing devices may include surgical staplers which are used to close the incisions made by the doctor. Surgical stapling has also proven more reliable than traditional suturing as it can decrease the possible rupturing of the sealed incision.