Instruments used in general surgery

Surgical instruments can vary widely by the field of surgery that they are used in. In general instruments can be divided into five classes by function:

  1. Cutting and dissecting instruments:
    • Scalpels, scissors, and saws are the most traditional
    • Although the term dissection is broad energy devices such as diathermy/cautery are often used as more modern alternatives.
  2. Grasping or holding instruments:
    • Classically this included forceps and clamps predominantly
    • Roughly forceps can be divided in traumatic (tissue crushing) and atraumatic (tissue preserving, such as Debakey's)
    • Numerous examples are available for different purposes by field
  3. Hemostatic instruments:
    • This includes instruments utilized for the cessation of bleeding
    • Artery forceps are a classic example in which bleeding is halted by direct clamping of a vessel
    • Sutures are often used, aided by a needle holder
    • Cautery and related instruments are used with increasing frequency in high resource countries
  4. Retractors:
    • Surgery is often considered to be largely about exposure
    • A multitude of retractors exist to aid in exposing the bodies cavities accessed during surgery
    • These can broadly be hand held (often by a junior assistant) or self retaining
  5. Tissue unifying instruments and materials:
    • This would include instruments that aid in tissue unification (such as needle holders or staple applicators)
    • And the materials themselves

Instruments used in surgery are:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Instrument class Image Uses Specific instruments
Articulator Artikulator.JPG Galotti articulator
Bone chisel Bone chisel.jpg Cutting instrument
Pin cutter Bone cutter.jpg To cut the pins after they are used to place bone in correct place
Bone distractor Figure 2. A ‘Hip Distractor’ attached to a surgical table. This allows tension to be applied to the hip for arthroscopic access..png Clamps and distractors
llizarov apparatus Ilizarov2.jpg Accessories and implants
Intramedullary kinetic bone distractor Clamps and distractors
Bone drill To drill inside the bone
Elevator Knochenhebel.jpg Accessories and implants
Bone mallet Accessories
Bone rasp Cutting instruments
Bone saw Cutting instruments
Bone skid
Bone splint
Bone button
Caliper To measure Castroviejo caliper
Cannula Spackman cannula.jpg Accessories and implants Spackmann Cannula
Cautery Electrocauter 00.jpg To cauterize and seal vessels and bone, using electricity
Curette Uterine Curette 01.jpg for scraping or debriding biological tissue or debris in a biopsy, excision, or cleaning procedure Cutting instrument
Dilator Medical instrument Eye ENT Nettleship's Punctum dilator.jpg Accessories and implants
Dissecting knife cutting instrument
surgical Pinzette Thumb forceps.JPG Grasping/holding
Dermatome Dermatome.png To take off a top layer of skin to implant over another area.
Forceps, Dissecting Adson 00.jpg Grasping/holding. Usually used in skin closure or small wounds Adson
Forceps, Tissue Allis clamp 01.JPG Grasping/holding tissue Allis
Penatrating towel clamp Backhaus clamp.svg Used to secure towels or reduce bone fragments Backhaus penetating towel clamp
Acanthulus or Acanthabolos Thorn removal
Bone forceps Grasping/holding
Carmalt forceps haemostatic forceps kalabasa
Cushing forceps grasping/holding Non-toothed dissecting forceps
Dandy forceps haemostatic forceps
DeBakey forceps Debakey forceps.jpg grasping/holding Non-toothed dissecting forceps designed for use on blood vessels, organs, or deilcate tissue
Doyen intestinal clamp clamps and distractors Non-crushing clamp designed for use on the intestines
Epilation forceps
Tiberio forceps haemostatic forceps
Kelly forceps Kelly Forceps.svg hemostatic forceps
Kocher forceps Kocher grossklein totale.jpg hemostatic forceps
Mosquito forceps Medical Instrument Mosquito forceps.jpg hemostatic forceps
Hook retractor
Nerve hook retractor
Obstetrical hook retractor
Skin hook retractor
Lancet (scalpel) Various scalpels.png cutting
Partsch mallet
Mammotome Mammotome.jpg
Needle holder Needle holder2.JPG grasping/holding Castroviejo Crilewood Mayo-Hegar Olsen-Hegar
Osteotome Osteotome.1ger.jpg cutting
Epker osteotome cutting
Periosteal elevator Farabeauf periosteal elevator.jpg cutting
Joseph elevator cutting
Molt periosteal elevator cutting
Obweg periosteal elevator cutting
Septum elevator cutting
Tessier periosteal elevator cutting
Retractor Surgical retractor Orem 2.jpg retractor
Deaver retractor Deaver retractor 02.JPG Deep wound retraction
Gelpi retractor self-retaining retractor. Used for superficial wound exposure
Weitlaner retractor self-retaining retractor. Used for superficial wound exposure
USA-Army/Navy retractor retractor
O'Connor-O'Sullivan retractor
Mathieu Retractor retractor
Jackson Tracheal Hook retractor
Crile Retractor retractor
Meyerding Finger Retractor retractor
Little Retractor retractor
Love Nerve Retractor retractor
Green Retractor retractor
Goelet Retractor retractor
Cushing Vein Retractor retractor
Langenbeck Retractor retractor
Richardson Retractor retractor
Richardson-Eastmann Retractor retractor
Kelly Retractor retractor
Parker Retractor retractor
Parker-Mott Retractor retractor
Roux Retractor retractor
Mayo-Collins Retractor retractor
Ribbon Retractor retractor
Alm Retractor retractor
Self Retaining Retractors West, Travers and Norfolk & Norwich
Weitlaner Retractor
Beckman-Weitlaner Retractor
Beckman-Eaton Retractor
Beckman Retractor
Adson Retractor
Rib spreader
Rongeur cutting instrument
Ultrasonic scalpel cutting
Laser scalpel Sharplan 40C.jpg cutting
Scissors Nożyczki Mayo.svg cutting
Iris scissors cutting
Kiene scissors cutting
Metzenbaum scissors Metzenbaum scissors 04.jpg To dissect delicate tissue cutting
Mayo scissors Surgical instruments3.JPG To cut suture, bandages, or dressings cutting
Tenotomy scissors cutting
Speculum Spéculum en plastique.jpg To retract the walls of the vagina Graves vaginal speculum
Mouth speculum retractor
Rectal speculum retractor
Sim's vaginal speculum Sim's double-bladed vaginal speculum1.jpg To retract the walls of the vagina
Cusco's vaginal speculum Cusco's selfretaining bivalve vaginal speculum behind.jpg retractor
Sponge bowl accessories and implants
Sterilization tray accessories and implants
Sternal saw cutting
Suction tube and Yankeur suction tip Yankauer Suction Tip.jpg accessories and implants
Surgical elevator Lecluse's elevator 01.jpg
Surgical hook Крючок хирургический трехзубый острый.jpg retractor
Surgical blade #15 Surgical Blade.jpg Used to cut vessels or make small incisions
Surgical mesh Hernia mesh 2.JPG accessories and implants
Surgical needle Surgical needles.jpg accessories and implants
Surgical snare
Surgical sponge
Curettes 3 scharfe loffel.jpg
GIA stapler Surgical stapler & cutter linear.JPG Used to make a gastrointestinal anastamosis Linear stapler
Surgical tray
Suture Atraumatisches Nahtmaterial 17.JPG
Tongue depressor Lack's Longue Depressor ENT Instrument Medical.jpg
Towel clamp Towel Clamps 01.jpg clamp
Towel forceps clamp
Backhaus towel forceps Backhaus clamp.svg
Lorna towel clamp Non-penatrating towel clamp
Tissue expander accessories and implant
Subcutaneous inflatable balloon expander accessories and implants
Trephine Trepan, Nordisk familjebok.png cutting instrument
Disposable trocar family
Access instrument. Used to create an opening into a space without opening the abdominal cavity. A camera then inserted through one to view the inside of the space while instruments are inserted through the others to manipulate the organs.
Ultrasonic energy device Surgical device using electrical energy that's converted to mechanical ultrasound energy typically used to dissect tissue but also seals small vessels and tissue bundles.
Vessel Sealing Device
Vessel sealing device
Vessel sealing device used to weld vessels together prior to cutting. These devices used bipolar radio frequency energy to create heat that welds the tissue. Advanced Bipolar Energy


  1. ^ " (English)". Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  2. ^ Children with Tracheostomies Resource Guide, by Marilyn K. Kertoy, p. 15 (Google book search)
  3. ^ Rob Toreki (1 December 2004). "Cannulas". The Glassware Gallery. Interactive Learning ←Paradigms Incorporated.
  4. ^ "Practical approach to nephrostomy". Archived from the original on 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  5. ^ See Mr R McElroy for details of various operations and the unintended effects of chemical cauterization
  6. ^ Ring, Malvin (July 2001). "How a Dentist's Name Became a Synonym for a Life-saving Device: The Story of Dr. Charles Stent". Journal of the History of Dentistry. 49 (2): 77–80. PMID 11484317. Archived from the original on 2005-04-28. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  7. ^ How do they get the hole through a hypodermic needle?
  8. ^ Bonfils-Roberts, E (May 1972). "The Rib Spreader: A Chapter in the History of Thoracic Surgery" (PDF). Chest. 61 (5): 469–474. doi:10.1378/chest.61.5.469. ISSN 0012-3692. PMID 4558402. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
  9. ^ "General Instrument Sourcebook - KMedic" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  10. ^ Bailey & Love’s SHORT PRACTICE OF SURGERY (23rd ed.). ISBN 0-340-75949-6.
  11. ^ Gould, George M. (1934). Gould's Pocket Pronouncing Medical Dictionary (10th (rev) ed.). P. Blakiston's Son & Co., Inc.