What is a Sterile Scalpel?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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A sterile scalpel is a surgical instrument that is used to cut through skin and other types of tissue in order to complete surgical procedures. As a sterile object, this kind of scalpel is free from bacteria or any other type of living microorganisms. In most cases, a sterile scalpel will be packaged in a facility that is outfitted in such a way as to be able to produce and package sterile objects. As soon as the scalpel is taken out of its package it is no longer sterile, as it can quickly pick up bacteria from the environment in which it is opened. Therefore, it is important not to open the packaging of a sterile scalpel — or any other sterile medical product such as gauze — until just before it is intended to be used.

There are a number of companies that sell both disposable sterile scalpels and sterile scalpel blades. A doctor who keeps a fully outfitted first aid kit with herself at most times might keep a disposable sterile scalpel in her kit. In a hospital setting, however, sterile scalpel blades may be used in order to reduce waste and to allow doctors to work with scalpel handles made of stainless steel, which is more durable and often preferred to the handles on disposable sterile scalpels, which are often made of plastic.


There are dozens of shapes and sizes of scalpels. As such, there are many different kinds of sterile scalpels on the market. Although there might be some differences in the packaging and distribution of different kinds of scalpels, it is almost always the case that sterile scalpels are packaged individually, even when they are sold in large packages of multiple scalpels.

Just as it is important to used sterile equipment in order to avoid exposing the patient to harmful bacteria or microorganisms, it is also important to make sure to properly dispose of a disposable sterile scalpel or disposable sterile scalpel blade after it has been used. Once a scalpel has been used it is considered to be medical waste. As such, the used scalpel must be disposed of in a manner that is accepted by government agencies overseeing public health. In the United States, there are a number of programs that allow people to drop off their medical waste at designated locations or to participate in programs that allow them to mail back their used sharp objects.


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