What Are the Different Uses of Forceps?

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  • Written By: Nicky Sutton
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2020
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There are many uses of forceps, mainly in the medical profession where they are used for various medical procedures. They grasp on to objects that may be too small, fine or slippery to hold. Larger forceps are used during birth for removing the baby from the birth canal, while others are used to hold objects such as sponges for mopping up blood, for teeth extractions and for holding a wound open during surgery. Forceps are available in different shapes and sizes, tailored for different uses.

The word forceps is commonly used in the medical profession for a tool used for grasping objects where fingers are not able to grasp as easily. For uses outside of the medical profession, forceps are usually called tweezers or pliers, for example, in jewelry making, fishing and model making. A small and accurate tool is needed to grasp and manipulate wires, beads or hooks.

Forceps come in all shapes and sizes. Some have finger holes on the handles, others have flat grips. The tips are of different shapes and sizes, from pointy, to flat ended, with or without teeth. One of the most common uses of forceps is during the delivery of babies where a larger version of forceps is used to grasp a baby's head to help guide it through the birth canal. These forceps have larger and more rounded ends, shaped to grasp the head or body.


Smaller, finer forceps are used during medical procedures. Tissue can be difficult to grasp, so forceps resembling tweezers are used, sometimes with teeth at the tips. The teeth grasp and effectively hold the tissue, stopping it from slipping. A fine set of forceps are used for suturing called needle-nosed forceps. Dentists also use forceps to grasp teeth during extractions.

Some other uses of forceps are for helping to install a catheter, for removing foreign objects from the ear or nose, and for removing splinters. Sponge forceps hold sponges during surgery to mop up blood, while bulldog forceps are used for holding and moving fine tissues during surgery.

Hemostat forceps primarily control bleeding during surgery, for example, by clamping arteries. A tenaculum is a hook shaped set of forceps for holding organs and body parts out of the way, for instance, blood vessels. Different forceps are used on different kinds of tissue during surgery, like Colibri's forceps which are used on the eyes, and Adson's forceps which are useful for grasping skin.



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