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What are the Different Kinds of Orthopedic Instruments?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are several types of orthopedic instruments used by trained medical professionals in the course of normal and surgical care of their patients, including different types of knives, forceps, drills, and bone chisels. The specialty of orthopedic medicine focuses on caring for and treating the bones of the body, especially those of the arms and legs, as they are most likely to become injured. Medical doctors and surgeons in this field are trained to treat traumatic injuries of the bones as well as treat common bone diseases such as cancer and avascular necrosis. The tools used in orthopedic surgery and procedures are most often designed to gain access to the area, such as in the case of surgical knives and scalpels, as well as to remove damaged parts of the bone tissue.

One of the most commonly used types of orthopedic instruments is surgical cutters, knives, and scalpels. These sharp instruments are designed to swiftly and cleanly cut tissues of the body to allow greater access to the damaged bone. Skin, adipose, and muscle tissue may be cut to allow the operating physician to reach the bone so he or she can remove damaged tissue or install artificial support, such as pins and prosthetic joints. These types of orthopedic equipment are normally constructed from stainless steel, and are kept very sharp and incredibly clean.

Another common type of orthopedic instrument commonly used are bone drills, which are used for a multitude of purposes including drilling holes in the bone tissue to reach the marrow as well as to remove external damaged tissue from the outer layers of the bone. These surgical instruments are available in a wide assortment of sizes to allow the surgeon to select the correct diameter needed for the procedure. Bone drills are often used to create a hole in the bone to allow the surgeon to install pins or other forms of support as needed.

Bone chisels work in a similar manner to drills, and are commonly used for removing bone tissue. These orthopedic instruments are ideal for extracting small slivers of bone when a deep hole is not necessary. They are available in many sizes and shapes and often feature non-slip handles to provide greater control during the procedure. Chisels may be used in orthopedic surgeries to shape an existing bone into a more natural shape for patients with bone spurs or other deformities, as well as help prepare the bone surface for more invasive procedures.

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Discussion Comments
By Misscoco — On Aug 26, 2011

Four years ago, I fell and broke my elbow. It was a real mess. The bones were way out of position. The surgery involved insertion of pins so the doctor must have used a surgical bone drill and pins to get it supported as well as possible.

After the cast came off, the elbow bone stuck out and it hurts whenever I put a lot of pressure on it or use the full range of motion.

I'm sure the surgeon used the equipment available and his bone working skills to the best of his ability, to repair the damage. Mending the body doesn't always bring the body part back to where it was.

By BoniJ — On Aug 25, 2011

I'm looking at foot surgery some time in the fairly near future. This article gave me some information about orthopedic surgery that I hadn't known about before. The description of the surgical tools and what they were used for helped me visualize what would be happening during surgery.

The comment about how sterile all the equipment is kept gives me confidence. Infection is one of the most common risks of surgery.

I think that before my surgery, I'm going to talk to the surgeon as much as possible and really get to know him. You can always choose a different one.

By SnowyWinter — On Aug 25, 2011

@waterhopper- I am sorry to hear about the accident that you and your son had. I wanted to let you know that I happen to be married to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. He decided to go into pediatrics after working as a surgeon for two years.

He comes home sometimes and cries about some of the children he sees and the traumas that they have endured.

I have a 5-year-old daughter and she has a lot of the "play" surgical tools all over the house because she wants to be a surgeon like her daddy.

I really just wanted to let you know that these surgeons do really care about the patients that they are working on and I am glad that your son had a doctor like that.

By WaterHopper — On Aug 24, 2011

Several years ago, my 6-year-old son and I were in a bad car crash and it left him with 3 amputated fingers on his left hand. He was flown to a trauma center where they were going to attempt to re-attach his amputated fingers.

Tragically, they could not re-attach his fingers but he was sent to one of the best orthopedic surgeons around. I was very impressed with this doctor because he explained everything he did and let my son see all of the medical instruments that he was using so that my son would understand. Every time that we went back to the doctor, my son was sent home with a little goody bag of medical tools (play tools, of course).

The field of orthopedics is amazing and medical equipment that is being used on orthopedic patients is as high-tech as anything I've ever seen.

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