What are Biopsy Forceps?

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  • Written By: E. Fogarty
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Biopsy forceps are a surgical instrument that resemble a pair of scissors. They are used as a grasping tool during surgery. Biopsies are performed when a physician needs to examine tissue for disease. By testing tissue retrieved during a biopsy, physicians can diagnose patients and determine the most appropriate course of treatment, or rule out certain illnesses.

During surgery, biopsy forceps can be used for delicate work. If the physician’s fingers are too large to manipulate tissue inside a small incision, these instruments will take the place of fingers. They can also act as a third hand during surgery. If several bits of tissue need to be held aside while a surgeon performs a task with his hands, biopsy forceps will be used to hold the tissue aside.

Biopsy forceps have several different designs, each appropriate for a different surgical situation. There are two basic types: locking and non-locking. Locking forceps are used to grasp and hold tissue, while non-locking forceps are used to move tissue.

Locking forceps typically have finger loops that resemble those on a pair of scissors. The most common mechanism to make these forceps lock is a group of interlocking teeth near the finger loops. When the forceps close, the teeth lock and hold the blunt blades of the forceps closed.


Non-locking forceps have a spring mechanism that holds the blades open until pressure is applied. They are used to quickly move small objects during surgery. Non-locking forceps can have blunt tips or lightly serrated tips.

Biopsy forceps can be designed with straight tips or an angled shaft. The angled shaft gives surgeons a bit of extra reach during surgery and helps with easier maneuverability. The instrument may also be designed with a rotating shaft, which allows a physician to maneuver tissue deep within the body cavity without making a large incision.

Some important qualities in biopsy forceps are sterility and durability. Typically, the instrument is made of high-grade carbon steel. This high-quality steel allows the forceps to withstand repeated sterilization, which occurs under extremely high temperatures. Sterilization between surgeries is important to prevent disease transmission from patient to patient.

Other types of biopsy forceps are intended to be used once and then thrown away. These are typically made of plastic. There is some debate over which type of biopsy forceps, one-use or reusable, is better. Some studies have shown that one-use biopsy forceps get better tissue samples, but reusable ones have better durability.



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