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A list of surgical supplies found in Kinn's The Medical Assistant Ninth Edition. Includes functions/characteristics.

Bandage scissors

Probe tip is blunt
Easily inserted under bandages with relative safety
Used to remove bandages and dressings

Metzenbaum ("Metz") scissors

Most frequently used length is 5 and 1/4 inches
Used to cut and dissect tissue

Mayo scissors

Have curved or straight blade tips
used to cut and dissect fascia and muscle
Can be used as suture scissors

Iris scissors

Usual length is 4 inches
Have curved or straight blade tips
Straight tips usually used for suture removal

Littauer Stitch or Suture Scissors

Blade has beak or hook to slide under sutures
Used to remove sutures

Scalpel Handle

No. 3 is the standard handle
No. 3L and No. 7 are used in deeper cavities

Scalpel Blades

No. 15 is commonly used and fits Nos. 3 and 7 handles.
Nos. 10, 11, and 12 are used for specialty incisions and fit Nos. 3 and 7 handles

Hemostat Forceps

Jaws may be fully or partially serrated, without teeth
May be curved or straight
Used to clamp small vessels or hold tissue
Mosquito forceps (4 inches) are smaller and used for very small vessels
Crile forceps (5 inches) are medium sized
Kelly forceps (6 to 7 inches) are larger

Needle Holders

Jaws are shorter and stronger than hemostat jaws
Jaws may be serrated or may have a groove in the center
Are 4 to 7 inches in size
Used to grasp a suture needle firmly

Splinter Forceps

Design and construction vary
Fine tip for foreign object retrieval

Smooth Adson Forceps

Same use as the Adson thumb forceps

Plain Thumb (Dressing) Forceps

Manufactured in lengths from 4 to 12 inches
Have varying types of serrated jaws but no teeth
Used to insert packing into or remove objects from deep cavities

Towel Forceps (Towel Clamp)

May have sharp or atraumatic tips
Are various lengths from 3 to 6 and 1/2 inches
Used to hold drapes in place during surgery

Allis Tissue Forceps

Available in different lengths and jaw widths
Used to grasp tissue, muscle, or skin surrounding a wound

Foerster Sponge Forceps

Used to hold gauze squares to sponge the surgical site.

Transfer Forceps

Many sizes and lengths are available
Sterile transfer forceps may be used to arrange items on sterile tray

Adson Thumb Forceps

Usually in 4-inch lengths
Manufactured with or without teeth
Used to grasp tissue and in suturing

Bayonet Forceps

Manufactured in different lengths
Smooth tipped
Used to insert packing into or remove objects from nose and ear

Plain-Tip Tissue Forceps

Manufactured in different lengths
Pincher grip
Used to grasp tissue, muscle, or skin surrounding a wound

Toothed Tissue Forceps

Manufactured in 4- to 18-inch lengths
Pincher grip
Used to grasp tissue, muscle, or skin surrounding a wound

Army-Navy Retractor

Used to retract small incisions

Four-Prong Rake Retractor

Pronged end may be sharp or dull
Manufacture in different lengths

Senn Retractor and Skin Hook

Used to retract small incisions or to secure a skin edge or suturing
Flat end is a blunt retractor
Three-prong end may be sharp or dull

Weitlaner Retractor

Used to retract incisions
Available with sharp or blunt teeth
Available in different lengths

Crile Malleable (Ribbon) Retractor

Used to hold back margins of large wounds and connective tissue or organs from the surgeon's viewing field


Length ranges from 4 to 12 inches; available with or without bulbous tip
May be smooth or have a grooved director
Used to find foreign bodies embedded in dermal tissue or muscle or to trace a wound tract

Trocars and Obturators

Consist of a sharply pointed stylus (obturator) contained in a cannula (outer tube)
Available in various sizes
Used to withdraw fluids from cavities or for draining and irrigating with a catheter


Most common dilator used
Valves are spread apart, dilating the opening
Used to open or distend a body orifice or cavity

Nasal Specula

Valves can be spread to facilitate viewing
An applicator or snare can be introduced through the valves
Used to spread the nostrils for examination

Foerster Sponge Forceps

Used in the same way as the dressing forceps
Tips are round and serrated

Placenta Forceps

Used to remove tissue from the uterus

Bozeman Uterine Dressings Forceps

Used to swab the area or apply medication
Designed to hold sponges or dressings
Capable of reaching the cervix through the vagina

Endocervical Curette

Smaller than the uterine curette
Used the same as the uterine curette

Sims Uterine Curette

Used to remove polyps, secretions, and bits of placental tissue
Manufactured in several sizes
Hollow and spoon shaped, used for scraping

Schroeder Uterine Vulsellum Forceps

Used to hold tissue (such as cervix) while obtaining a tissue specimen or to lift the cervix to view the fornix

Long Allis Forceps

Same as Allis forceps
Used in deeper body cavities

Schroeder Uterine Tenaculum Forceps

Used in the same way as the vulsellum forceps
Have very sharp, pointed tips

Hegar Uterine Dilators

Used to dilate the cervix for dilatation and curettage
Available in sets
Double or single ended

Sims Uterine Sounds

Used to check the patency of the cervical os or the urethral meatus

Krause Nasal Snare

Has a wire loop at the tip that can be tightened
Used to remove polyps from the nares

Metal Tongue Depressor

Used to depress the tongue for oral examinations

Hartmann "Alligator" Ear Forceps

Has a 3 and 1/2 inch shaft and is made in a variety of styles
Action of the jaw similar to that of an alligator's jaw
Used to remove foreign bodies or polyps

Laryngeal Mirror

Made in various sizes
May have a nonfogging surface
Used for examination of the larynx and postnasal area

Ivan Laryngeal Metal Applicator

Holds cotton in place with its roughened end. Used to swab or sponge throat or postnasal tissue
Six to 9 inches long with curved end for use in throat or postnasal areas
Used to remove foreign bodies imbedded in the pharynx

"Buck" Ear Curette

Made with sharp or blunt scraper ends
Manufactured in various sizes
Used to remove foreign matter from the ear canals

Sharp Ear Dissector

Used to remove debris from the ear canal

Cervical Biopsy Forceps

Available with or without teeth
Used to obtain cervical specimens for diagnostic examination

Rectal Biopsy Punch

Manufactured with interchangeable stems
Available in different lengths and styles
Used through a proctoscope or sigmoidoscope

Silverman Biopsy Needle

Manufactured with a split cannula
Stylus is removed, and cannula is inserted to retrieve specimen
Needle biopsy can eliminate the need for surgical incision

Catheter Guide

Metal guide
Used with extreme caution
Used by the physician when it is impossible to insert a catheter by normal means

Foley Catheter With Inflated Balloon

Manufactured in sizes 8 to 32 French with a double rubber lining toward the tip
After insertion, sterile solution injected into the inner lining (inflating the balloon) to hold it in the bladder
Used as an indwelling catheter

Red Robinson Catheter

Soft rubber urethral catheter in sizes 8 to 32 French (each French unit is equal to 1.3 mm)
The higher the number, the larger the lumen
Inserted temporarily into the bladder for drainage or to obtain a specimen

12-ml Luer-Lok Syringe

Used for injecting amounts greater than 5 ml


Used to internally view the anus, rectum, and sigmoid colon
Used with a fiberoptic light source; may use photography or video setup


Localized collection of pus that may be under the skin or deep within the body that causes tissue destruction.


Rigid tube that surrounds a blunt trocar or a sharp, pointed trocar inserted into the body; when withdrawn, fluid may escape from the body through the tube, depending on where it is inserted


Act of scraping a body cavity with a surgical instrument, such as a curette


Opening or widening the circumference of a body orifice with a dilating instrument


To cut or separate tissue with a cutting instrument or scissors.


Sheet or band of fibrous tissue located deep in the skin that covers muscles and body organs


Abnormal, tube-like passage between internal organs or from an internal organ to the body surface


Open space, such as within a blood vessel, the intestine, the inside of a needle, or an examining instrument


Metal rod with a smooth, rounded tip that is placed into hollow instruments to decrease injury to body tissues during insertion


Open condition of a body cavity or canal


Tumors with stems, frequently found on mucous membranes


Metal probe that is inserted into or passed through a catheter, needle, or tube used for clearing purposes or to facilitate passage into a body orifice

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