A trocar is a surgical instrument with a sharp point which is used to create a hole in the body which can be used to introduce surgical tools. Trocars are most commonly attached to tubes known as cannulas, with surgical tools being passed down the cannula, through the trocar, and into the body. Trocars are widely used in laparoscopic surgery procedures. They are also utilized by the funeral industry, during the embalming process.
Although trocars are traditionally sharp, the blade can come in a number of styles, from the classic three pointed blade on a traditional trocar to a blunt blade on a non-bladed version of the instrument. Trocars can also be shielded, with small shields which click into place to prevent damage to a patient's internal organs after the trocar has been inserted. These devices are often designed to be single use, with the trocar discarded after use in a patient.
One use for the trocar in human and animal medicine is for aspiration. If a patient has a buildup of fluid or gas, a trocar can be quickly inserted and connected to an aspiration tube to remove the buildup. This can greatly increase comfort for the patient, acting as an emergency intervention to stabilize the patient until a doctor can determine what caused the buildup and address the problem. In laparoscopic surgery and surgical procedures on the veins and arteries, trocars are used as ports, creating a point of entry for tools used during the surgery. After the surgery is finished, the device is carefully removed and small stitches are put in place.
Trocars come in a range of sizes, designed for various applications. A surgical trocar may be quite large, to allow for the introduction of surgical tools, and the surgeon can usually select from several styles and sizes to find the most appropriate tool for a procedure. Various devices can also be attached to the instrument, such as aspiration machines, ports used for the delivery of medicine, and so forth.
In the embalming process used to prepare bodies for burial, the trocar is used to gain venous access for arterial embalming. Once the embalming is complete, another trocar connected to an aspiration machine is inserted into the abdomen to drain gas and fluids. This is designed to prevent bloating of the body, as the embalming process does not halt the process of decomposition, only slowing it considerably.