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What Is a Lateral Incision?

A lateral incision is a surgical cut made along the side of the body or a limb, often used to access deeper structures with minimal disruption to surrounding tissues. This approach can enhance recovery and reduce scarring. Intrigued by how such a precise technique can benefit patient outcomes? Discover the intricacies and advantages of lateral incisions in our detailed exploration.
C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox

A lateral incision is a cut on one of a patient's sides. The term lateral refers to the side of an organism and may refer to any part of a patient's side, including the head, neck, torso, arms, and legs. The patient's body as a whole contains a left and right lateral side as do each of the patient's limbs. An incision is any type of cut, though generally one made surgically, for the benefit of the patient.

One common type of lateral incision runs down the patient's side with one end of the cut towards the patient's head and the other end towards the patient's feet. It is also possible for an incision to be cut perpendicular to a patient's height, and as long as this incision is made on the person's side rather than on the patient's front or back, it can be considered a lateral one. It is also possible for an incision to begin on the patient's front or back and to be cut laterally, which means that the incision will move towards the person's side.

A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.
A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.

Though a lateral incision can be made with any sharp blade, the most common tool that doctors use to make this or any other incision is a scalpel. This tool has an extremely sharp blade attached to a handle that facilitates the fine, precise movements needed to cut into a patient. The blade of a scalpel can be made out of metal, ceramic, or sharpened stone, such as obsidian. The scalpel must be sterilized so that harmful microorganisms do not enter the patient's body through the incision.

Any surgical procedure can result in infection or in wounds that heal slowly.
Any surgical procedure can result in infection or in wounds that heal slowly.

There are many different reasons for a doctor to make a lateral incision on a patient's body. Frequently, these incisions are made so that a surgeon can gain access to a patient's organs, muscles or bones. Once the incision is made, a surgeon can repair damaged bones, sew torn internal tissues together or place beneficial hardware into the patient's body.

A lateral incision is typically stitched closed and dressed with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.
A lateral incision is typically stitched closed and dressed with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.

After a lateral incision has been made, the surgeon must close up the wound so that it will heal properly. Stitches are commonly used to hold the damaged skin together until the tissues grow back together. Depending on the depth and length of the lateral incision, the stitches may pass through just the top layers of skin or may be set beneath the skin in the subcutaneous layer.

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    • A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.
      By: iofoto
      A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.
    • Any surgical procedure can result in infection or in wounds that heal slowly.
      By: redcarpett
      Any surgical procedure can result in infection or in wounds that heal slowly.
    • A lateral incision is typically stitched closed and dressed with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.
      By: Sherry Yates
      A lateral incision is typically stitched closed and dressed with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.
    • Stitches are commonly used to close surgical incisions.
      By: freepeoplea
      Stitches are commonly used to close surgical incisions.
    • It is imperative to keep an incision site clean.
      By: dacasdo
      It is imperative to keep an incision site clean.
    • An incision is defined as any type of cut made for the benefit of the patient.
      By: Remains
      An incision is defined as any type of cut made for the benefit of the patient.
    • Caring for an incision following surgery includes regularly applying a fresh bandage.
      By: imagedb.com
      Caring for an incision following surgery includes regularly applying a fresh bandage.