A scalpel, or lancet, is a small and extremely sharp bladed instrument used for surgery, anatomical dissection, and also for various arts and crafts (called a hobby knife). Scalpels may be single-use disposable or re-usable, and recently Safety Scalpels are the norm in the Operating Rooms. Re-usable scalpels can have permanently attached blades that can be sharpened or, more commonly, removable single-use blades. Disposable scalpels usually have a plastic handle with an extensible blade (like a utility knife) and are used once, then the entire instrument is discarded. Scalpel blades are usually individually packed in sterile pouches but are also offered non-sterile. Double-edged scalpels are referred to as “lancets”.

surgical scissor


Scalpel blades are usually made of hardened and tempered steel, stainless steel, or high carbon steel; in addition, titanium, ceramic, diamond and even obsidian knives are not uncommon. For example, when performing surgery under MRI guidance, steel blades are unusable (the blades would be drawn to the magnets, or may cause image artifacts). Historically, the preferred material for surgical scalpels was silver, on account of its antimicrobial properties (although the mechanics were not understood at the time). Scalpel blades are also offered by select manufacturers with a zirconium nitride-coated edge to improve sharpness and edge retention. Others manufacture blades that are polymer-coated to enhance lubricity during a cut. Alternatives to scalpels in surgical applications include electrocautery and lasers.

Reusable handle (top) and disposable scalpels (bottom):

Surgical scalpels consist of two parts, a blade and a handle. The handles are often reusable, with the blades being replaceable. In medical applications, each blade is only used once (even if just for a single, small cut).

Use of a Laser Scalpel

scalpel safety


Surgery instruments must be kept in proper shape as they are vital towards carrying out an operation properly. Surgical instruments are designed to ensure that the surgeons can complete surgeries in an effective manner. Surgeries are mainly held to modify or remove any kind of body tissues. Surgical instruments also come in a variety of types designed to do separate things. They are categorized based on their usage. Also they are sometimes categorized according to the materials which which they are made.

Disposable and non disposable surgical instruments

The scalpel is one of the most common surgical instruments. These are used for incisions or thin cuts on the flesh to reach the inner organs. The retractors are used used to keep the cuts open so that the surgeons can reach in and go through with the operation. Forceps are another popular surgical instrument which is used for picking and holding tissues. When it comes to cutting tissues scissors are also used but these scissors are not the same as the household ones. These are much more precise and effective. All these instruments are made from hardened and tampered steel. After considering their composition they are labelled as reusable or not. There are also other surgical instruments which are made for just one time usage. These are destroyed after usage like the disposable surgical needles. Disposable surgical instruments are always sterilized the moment they are purchased in home and hospital departmental stores. These disposable tools are generally made from runner or plastic materials. Protective surgical gloves, twin bone nasal catheter, nasal oxygen catheter, oxygen mask, suction catheter, and trachea’s tony tubes are few examples of these types of instruments.

Why is sterilization of the instruments important?

Proper care and maintenance of surgical tools are a must. They need to be sterilized and disinfected before and after use. When it comes to instruments like scalpel, forceps, retractors etc. it is understandable that they will be used on vital body organs so you must ensure that they are completely germ free and disinfected before you end up using them. If the instruments are cleaned and disinfected properly there is little to no chance of infections. Proper maintenance of these instruments also increases the life span of the instruments. This results in reducing extra costs like repairs and replacements. Also you need to make sure that the instruments which are disposable are being disposed in a proper way. You do not want them to get used by someone else. So ensure that all needles and other disposable surgical instruments are gathered and properly disposed off, since failure to do so will allow microorganisms to spread to and cause further diseases. These are some of the factors which everyone who uses operating room instruments must keep in mind; they will help in ensuring the safety of the patient as well as the other people in the area. Hospitals need to have proper procedures for disposing off such medical devices as well.