What Are the Different Kinds of Orthopedic Surgical Instruments?

L. Baran

Orthopedic surgery is the area of medicine concerned with the surgical treatment of bones, muscles and joints. It is used to address broken bones, trauma, joint degeneration, tumors, bone growth disorders and more. Due to the wide range of issues addressed in this field, there are numerous types of orthopedic surgical instruments. These tools can be divided into basic groups and include bone instruments, positioning equipment, wires, drills and screwdrivers. Additionally, there are different types of scissors and forceps.

Bone cutting instruments are used for hip replacements.
Bone cutting instruments are used for hip replacements.

Bone instruments are used to access, open, manipulate and repair bones in the body. An awl is used to create holes in segments of bone, while a bone cutter is used to make accurate cuts. Bone cutters can be manual or electric and are often used in intricate surgeries, such as knee or hip repairs and replacements. In order to shave down areas of bone that may have become sharp or damaged, orthopedic surgical instruments, such as bone files, are used. To gain access to certain areas, particularly in the brain, a bone rongeur may be used to gouge out sections of bone.

Bone files and surgical scissors may be used during orthopedic surgery.
Bone files and surgical scissors may be used during orthopedic surgery.

Many orthopedic surgical instruments are used to position body parts for surgery. These tools hold and secure anatomical structures to give surgeons access to the area they are working on and to prevent accidental damage to uninvolved tissues. Retractors hold bone, muscle or tissue and keep it in place while the surgeon works. They can be secured by counter weights to prevent shifting or may be held down by medical assistants if they need to be moved frequently during the operation.

To connect pieces of bone, muscle, ligament and other body parts, instruments like wires, screws and pins are used. These pieces of hardware can be temporary or permanent depending on their application and location. Wires are used to bind structures, particularly bones, in mobile joints. Screws and pins are used in places where a stronger hold is necessary, or in areas where a lot of stress is exerted in activities of daily living. Surgical drills and screwdrivers are used to secure hardware and to remove it later, if necessary.

In delicate orthopedic surgery, different types of forceps are used to grasp and manipulate muscles, tissues, ligaments and tendons. Forceps are small, handheld orthopedic surgical instruments that are hinged at one end to allow the surgeon maximum control. Some forceps can be used to clamp blood vessels to prevent excessive bleeding while surgery is being performed. Similarly, surgical scissors can cut small areas of tissue or be used to hold and clamp. Scissors come in numerous shapes and lengths to meet the requirements of many different types of surgery.

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