Surgical clamps are tools used by surgeons and medical professionals to cut off blood flow or other fluids during surgery. These tools are used in hospital operating rooms, during many outpatient procedures as well as in-the-field by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. There are a variety of surgical clamp styles and sizes to accommodate many applications and functions. The shape of the tip of each tool generally determines what it can be used for, and many are designed for exact procedures.
A standard surgical clamp is lightweight and made of stainless steel for sterilization and utilitarian purposes. Most clamps can be held like a pair of scissors for easy application. Serrated jaws grip the tissue, vessel, or organ tightly. The handles typically lock together with a row of interlocking teeth that allow the surgeon to choose the amount of tension, or locking pressure, on the tissue or organ being clamped. The lock also allows surgeons to leave a clamp in place, hands-free, during the length of the procedure.
One of the most common surgical clamps is called a hemostat. This clamp is used to line the incision area after surgery begins to stem the blood flow from severed vessels. Though most commonly used to prevent hemorrhaging, surgical clamps are also used to stop other bodily fluids and bacteria from entering or escaping tissues during surgical procedures. Clamps can join tissues together during repair or hold them away from the surgical site for easier access. Larger clamps can be used together to compress an organ or bulky tissue, while micro surgical clamps or clips are used for the smallest blood vessels and in the smallest pediatric cases.
There are many clamp styles in addition to the hemostat. Some surgical clamp tips form a 90-degree angle, while others are slightly curved or look like hooks. The bone clamp is a sturdy, claw-like clamp meant to grasp and hold bone securely. A surgical instrument called the Gomco clamp is used during circumcision and looks more like a claw than a pair of scissors.
The rubber dam clamp, or tooth extracting forceps, are clamps used by dentists. These clamps are made to fit in the oral cavity and grip a small tooth. Another style of clamp is the aortic cross-clamp used during cardiac surgery. This clamp allows the surgeon to put less stress on the aorta and hopefully prevent further damage or neurological injury.