We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Adson Forceps?

By Mary Ruff-King
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Adson forceps are stainless steel tweezers used to move and hold tissue in place during delicate surgical procedures. These surgical tools, also called thumb forceps, are used by manually holding them between the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the dominant hand and squeezing down to grasp, hold and move tissue into place. Adson tissue forceps are used for medical, dental and veterinarian surgeries to maintain sterile technique and to minimize tissue damage. After an operation, Adson dressing forceps can be used to remove sutures, dressings and ancillary surgical tubing. Both types of Adson forceps can be sterilized in an autoclave so that they can be reused.

Adson tissue forceps comes in a wide variety of tip configurations. A pair of 1x2 Adson forceps has two fine teeth on the inner portion of one tip, and on the inner portion of the opposing tip is one fine tooth that interlocks between the other two teeth when the tool is clamped together. These are commonly called rat-tooth tissue forceps, because of their appearance. This tool is used primarily to secure tissue without the worry of slippage. In oral surgery, Adson tissue forceps are used to grasp loose, excised tissue as well as to manage placement of oral tissue while it is being sutured.

Other types of Adson forceps have fine, serrated teeth on the edges of both inner tips. Unlike rat-tooth forceps, these forceps do not bite and hold the tissue. They are used to manipulate very delicate tissues while minimizing the trauma involved with the manipulation and/or movement.

Adson dressing forceps are used to remove dressings and sutures. They might have a scissors-type handle grip with a curved or straight tip that gives the surgeon more flexibility and dexterity as well as the ability to apply more force if needed. Adson dressing forceps also can be used to move or remove drainage tubes while still maintaining the sterile field.

In medicine, surgical tools, procedures, diseases and syndromes are often named after the doctor or doctors who invent or discover them. Such is the case with the Adson forceps, which are named after Alfred Washington Adson, M.D., a renowned pioneer in neurosurgery who solidified his place in medical history while working at the Mayo Clinic from 1914 to 1946. He invented the Adson forceps as well as the Adson retractor. The Adson’s test, a test for thoracic outlet syndrome, is also named after him.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon959454 — On Jul 04, 2014

I know a vet tech who is using them to feed a fledgling. Never heard of them before, so I googled the term and landed here.

By anon255893 — On Mar 19, 2012

I am studying veterinary science and cannot find on any websites the difference in adson tissue forceps and rat tooth thumb forceps.

By titans62 — On Jul 16, 2011

When I had my stitches removed, the doctor used a pair of the dressing forceps to pull away the gauze so that she could gently remove it without touching the wound.

By matthewc23 — On Jul 15, 2011

Is there any difference between forceps and tweezers? I have always called things like this tweezers. Is forceps just the proper medical term for tweezers?

By Emilski — On Jul 14, 2011

I always find it amazing how specialized medical equipment has become. There seem to be very few multipurpose tools, now.

We used to have a pair of Adson forceps lying around the house. Ours were the rat tooth kind with the interlocking teeth. I was never quite sure what someone would have used them for, but now I know. I always used them for grabbing thread as it came through the eye of a needle. I'm curious whether there are any more household uses for a pair of these.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.