What are Grasping Forceps?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Grasping forceps are tools that allow physicians to manipulate tissues, engage in debridement, and remove foreign objects from the body. Typically, grasping forceps are used to retrieve stones from a patient's body and can be used with membranes of any size. Sponge, towel, tissue, and vulsellum forceps may also be referred to as grasping forceps.

Mechanically, grasping forceps differ from regular forceps in a few ways. These special forceps can have either two, three, or four prongs. Prong wires are usually presented in rounded form so that the forceps can be moved without unnecessarily harming the patient. They are also characterized as having hooked tips, which let medical professionals grasp both large and small objects in the body. This special prong and tip combination allows objects to be removed from the body and then easily released from the forceps' grasp.

A physician usually inserts his thumb through one of the forceps' finger loops while placing his middle finger or ring finger in the other. His index finger will remain free to position the instrument as necessary during the procedure. A locking mechanism, sometimes composed of teeth near the forceps' finger loops, protects a patient from the accidental dropping and re-entrance of a retrieved item. Makers of grasping forceps design them so that the friction required to advance or contract them is minimized as much as possible. This reduces the incidence of extra trauma to the patient.


Though the forceps can be beneficial to any patient who undergoes a procedure involving them, they are also advantageous for medical professionals performing the procedures. Hand fatigue can be reduced if a medical professional chooses to use grasping forceps. In addition, grasping forceps will sit securely in the hand so as to discourage accidental slippage. A physician may be granted extra control of the instrument depending on the number of prongs on the forceps.

Since the tips of grasping forceps are usually tapered, the instrument can provide medical professionals with a clear line of sight while performing a procedure. The forceps can also be easily transferred through endoscopes that are flexible enough to hold them. Forceps made out of high-grade carbon steel can be autoclavable, sterilized, and reused. Other forceps made out of lower-grade steel may not be intended to be used in sterile surgical procedures. Forceps composed of plastic are, generally, meant to be used only once and carefully discarded or destroyed after the initial use.



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