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What Are Surgical Scissors?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Surgical scissors are scissors designed for use in surgical and other medical procedures like removing bandages and trimming dead skin away from wounds in debridement. They are distinguished from regular scissors by their sharpness and sterilizable design, as well as the variety of shapes and configurations of the blades for use in different medical applications. Surgical suppliers typically sell surgical scissors along with replacement components. Some models are available at craft and hobby stores because they can be useful for some kinds of projects.

Stainless steel is commonly used in surgical scissor construction because it is durable and strong. It can withstand numerous rounds of washing and autoclaving between procedures, and holds an edge for an extended period of time. The blades can be straight, curved, or canted, with blunt or sharp ends for different purposes. For example, bandage removal scissors often have blunt ends to limit the risk of cutting the patient while positioning the scissors.

In the operating room, a surgeon can use surgical scissors to dissect tissue, clip away dead or diseased material, and manipulate some kinds of tissue. It can also be useful for preparing sutures and bandages. Operating room personnel may set up a range of scissors to meet the needs of the surgeon during the procedure, including very small, sharp scissors for precision tasks. Outside the operating room, scissors are used in many basic medical procedures and at home for activities like trimming nails.

Like other surgical instruments, a pair of surgical scissors has a design that facilitates sterilization, with no cracks or pits for bacteria to hide in, and construction durable enough to hold up to considerable heat in the autoclave. Some may have padded handles and other features to make them easier to use, including handles tailored to both left and right handed surgeons. A high degree of control is critical with surgical instruments, and thus they are very carefully engineered to work optimally.

First aid kids often have a pair of surgical scissors for tasks like cutting bandages, cutting away trapped hair, and so forth. It is advisable to keep them in a case to prevent injuries and limit the risk that the edges will blunt while the scissors rattle around in the kit. If they start to lose their edges, the surgical scissors can be sent to a sharpener. The sharpener should remove any burr that forms during sharpening and polish the scissors to make it easy to spot cracks and other damage that might create a breeding ground for bacteria.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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