Forceps are a hand-held, hinged instrument used in medical procedures. Forceps come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different procedures and user preference. Straight forceps feature a design in which the shaft of the instrument lacks a curve. Alternatively, curved forceps feature a curve along the shaft, usually of 60 or 90 degrees.
Forceps are most often made of high-grade carbon steel and can be sterilized and reused, although some forceps are made of plastic and are disposed of after one use. Both curved and straight forceps can be designed to be locking or non-locking. Locking forceps feature a design that allows them to be manually clamped in place and then released while maintaining the clamp.
Straight forceps, like curved forceps, can be designed to be reusable or disposable. Reusable forceps are most commonly made of high-grade carbon steel, which withstands repeated cleanings and sterilization. Sterilization techniques can include the use of detergents and other chemicals, extremely high temperatures or ultrasonic waves. Disposable forceps are intended for single use only and are made of high-grade plastic.
Both curved forceps and straight forceps can be designed to be locking or non-locking. Locking forceps feature a mechanism that allows the instrument to be manually placed in a clamping position and then released while maintaining the clamp. Non-locking forceps must be constantly squeezed in order to remain clamped.
The most common type of forceps locking mechanism features a series of interlocking teeth located just above the hinge of the instrument. These teeth engage when the instrument is clamped. When the clamping action is no longer needed, the forceps can be released by a shift of the fingers, which unlocks the teeth and allows the grasping end of the instrument to move apart.
There are various types of straight forceps that are used in different medical procedures. Hemostatic forceps are used to control bleeding and can be designed with a straight shaft or a curved shaft. Obstetric forceps are used during childbirth to assist the obstetrician in guiding a fetus through the birth canal. Uterine forceps are designed for grasping and clamping tissue within a woman's uterus during medical procedures. Dental forceps are used by dentists to grab and extract teeth, and Kelley forceps are used to control bleeding and feature a locking design.