What Is a Suture Grasper?

Misty Wiser

A suture grasper is a hand-held instrument used in many surgical procedures. It may be used to close incisions in laparoscopic surgery, suture skin wounds, or tie off bleeding blood vessels. This tool can be utilized to attach prosthetic materials, such as mesh, to the inside of the abdominal wall in hernia repair operations or separate the abdominal organs from the abdominal wall to help prevent the formation of adhesions. The instrument’s tiny size enables the surgeon to close small wounds without creating a larger incision.

The suture grasper can be used to close the incisions made during laparoscopic surgery.
The suture grasper can be used to close the incisions made during laparoscopic surgery.

Most suture graspers are designed to be used with one hand. Some are reusable devices that must be sterilized after each use. The detachable needle portion may be replaced if it becomes damaged, dull, or bent. Others are designed for use on a single patient and then intended to be discarded.

Most suture graspers are designed to be used with one hand.
Most suture graspers are designed to be used with one hand.

One version of the device looks similar to a very large syringe assembly. On the top of the suture grasper, a round thumb ring is attached to the handle of the tool. Two round loops are on each side of the handle and into which the fingers are inserted when using the tool. A needle with a pincer at the very end is fixed to the handle of the instrument.

Surgical instruments are kept sterile before use.
Surgical instruments are kept sterile before use.

To use this type of suture grasper, the surgeon will push the thumb ring in, exposing the pincer portion of the needle. Once the pincers open, the suture thread is inserted into the opening. In order to retract the pincers and hold the suture, the surgeon will pull back on the thumb ring.

Suture kits used by doctors typically include at least one suture grasper.
Suture kits used by doctors typically include at least one suture grasper.

Another form of this instrument has a handle designed to be held with the whole hand. The pincers on this tool can be used to place sutures, pick up fallen sutures, or grasp and move tissue as the stitches are placed in the wound. Compressing the handle opens the pincers to grasp the suture thread, and releasing the pressure on the handle causes the pincers to close again.

Some wounds require suturing.
Some wounds require suturing.

A third type of suture grasper has scissor-like handles attached to the needle and pincer portion of the tool. The pincers are crimped to easily grip the suture thread. This instrument is used to retrieve sutures that may have dropped into the body cavity.

One type of suture grasper has handles similar to scissors and a crimped tip to hold the suture thread.
One type of suture grasper has handles similar to scissors and a crimped tip to hold the suture thread.

The fourth form of suture grasper has a plunger attached to a small handle connected to the needle portion of the instrument. Pushing the plunger in causes the pincers to exit the body of the needle. When the plunger is retracted, the pincers clamp down on the suture thread and pull it up into the needle. This suture grasper is sterilized before shipment to the medical facility.

A numbing agent is typically administered before stitches are performed on a patient.
A numbing agent is typically administered before stitches are performed on a patient.

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Discussion Comments

Valkyrie1992

I had good cause to study up on the subject of the suture grasper, as one such instrument was instrumental in retrieving a broken off, one inch long piece of a sewing needle that was lodged somewhere in my right foot.

I have peripheral neuropathy, so I did not even feel the needle go in my foot when I stepped on it coming out of the shower. A few days later, my foot was red and infected, so the surgeon used a magnetic x-ray device to locate the errant needle, and a suture grasper to extract it. When it happened, I heard applause from the staff who were witnessing a fairly unusual procedure. I even got to hold the grasper for a minute. Wish I could have taken it home for a remembrance.

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