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What is a Bulldog Clamp?

By Sandra Koehler
Updated May 17, 2024
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The bulldog clamp is a surgical tool used to clamp off or close blood vessels. Made of stainless steel or titanium, the most common bulldog clamp is a spring-loaded crossover clamp. It has serrated blades that when pressed together become an effective tool to cut off blood supply.

There are clamps made for arteries and veins. The structure and function of arteries and veins are different. The arteries carry blood away from the heart. All arteries, except for the pulmonary, or the respiratory arteries, and the umbilical artery, the blood vessel in the abdomen and pelvic area that extends to the umbilical cord during pregnancy, carry oxygenated blood. Veins carry blood towards the heart. Veins carry deoxygenated blood, except for the pulmonary and umbilical arteries, which carry oxygenated blood.

The main purpose of the bulldog clamp is to stop the blood flow and prevent excessive bleeding in the area of the surgical procedure, and to prevent the patient from losing an unnecessary amount of blood. The most common type of clamp opens when the handles are squeezed, and conversely, shuts when the pressure is released from the handles.

Slight variations to these clamps can be found, depending on the location of the surgical procedure and the needs of the surgeon. For example, the glover bulldog clamp utilizes a tension-adjusted screw to replace the standard handle-operated opening and shutting of the clamp. This tension-adjusted screw allows for a controlled amount of pressure to be placed on the blood vessel.

The bulldog clamp comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Clamps typically range from one inch (2.5 cm), commonly used for smaller blood vessels or areas which require a delicate touch, to two inches (5 cm) in length. They can be straight or curved. The curvature of the blades can also range from curved to strongly-curved. This allows the surgeon to access those blood vessels which are difficult to reach.

The bulldog clamp can also come with an amplifier. An amplifier resembles an extended handle. This allows the surgeon to use clamping techniques when distance is an obstacle. An example of a surgical procedure where an amplifier may be needed to secure a blood vessel is endoscopic procedures.

An endoscope is an instrument which allows the surgeon to see deep body structures and organs where there is no direct line of sight. Examples of surgical procedures that may require an endoscope are inside the colon or bowel. This is where a bulldog clamp amplifier can effectively utilize the necessary clamping techniques without difficulty.

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