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What Are Toothed Forceps?

By Misty Wiser
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A toothed forcep is a grasping instrument used to hold, reposition, or remove tissue, organs, and sutures during many medical procedures. This surgical tool may feature a single large tooth, or three to four tooth-like projections on the end of the instrument. Some toothed forceps have a long row of small teeth. Often, forceps with teeth also have a ratchet or locking mechanism to secure the tissue during a procedure.

Toothed forceps are used in a variety of professions. In addition to surgical and medical procedures, morticians or coroners may use a toothed forcep to grasp and lift tissue as a body is prepared for burial or an autopsy is performed. This type of grasping instrument may also be used to hold materials needed to clean the body or to secure the organs as they are being removed from the deceased.

They are available in a variety of sizes specific to the medical procedure and type of tissue the tool will be used on. Procedures involving the skin or fascia, a thick connecting tissue located just underneath the skin, may require the use of a toothed forcep with a thicker metal body, such as the Morrison® forcep. The smallest variety of a toothed forcep is known as a thumb forcep; this tiny instrument is commonly referred to as tweezers. When tweezers have a tiny row of teeth on the grasping part of the tool, they are called mouse-teeth thumb forceps. These are most often used when an open wound is being repaired with sutures.

Larger toothed forceps are often called tissue forceps. Many tissue forceps feature a locking mechanism to hold the tissue securely out of a surgeon’s visual field. The tooth-like projections may damage delicate tissue as the instrument is locked into position.

Another large toothed forcep is called an artery forcep which is designed to hold blood vessels and arteries during surgical procedures. It may also be used to maneuver sutures through tissue as an operation progresses. Small rubber caps, or boots, covering the grasping portion of the forcep may be needed to prevent the suture from being crushed as the forcep is clamped closed.

Some toothed forceps have a curved end that are most often needed during procedures that involve the removal of small round stones, such as gallstone or kidney stone removal operations. The degree of curve on the instrument is dependent on the size of the patient, the size of the stones, and the specific operation being performed.

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