Surgical Instruments

Surgical instruments are defined as special tools or devices designed to perform specific actions during a surgical operation. Research in the field of surgery has seen a number of inventions in surgical instruments as well. They are classified based on the actions they perform with or without the inventor’s name prefixed and sometimes based on the kind of procedure performed.

Types of Surgical Instruments

Surgical instruments can be broadly classified as:


Graspers are used to hold an organ, tissue or blood vessels. Forceps is a good example of graspers.

Occluders and Clamps:

Occluders are used in clamping blood vessels and even organs during surgery.


Retractors are devices utilized to open up and spread tissues, skin and ribs.

Distractors :

Distractors are surgical instruments used to increase bone length.


Positioners help in positioning the affected region on the operation table.

Stereotactic Devices:

Stereotactics are essentially surgical frames used to frame the part of the body undergoing surgery.

Mechanical Cutters:

Cutters are simple surgical instruments used to produce cuts or puncture holes for opening a part. Scalpels, rasps, ligasure, lancets and drill bits are some of the commonly used mechanical cutters.


Dilators are used to access narrow passages during surgical procedures.

Suction Tubes:

Suction tubes are small tubes used to remove body fluids with suction.

Surgical Staplers and Tapes:

Surgical tapes are sealing devices used to join or cover stitches after an operation.

Injection Needles:

Injection needles are used to inject fluids. They come in all sizes and shapes based on the intended use.


Tyndallers are specific devices used in brain surgery to help in wedging open the damaged tissues of the brain.

Scopes or Probes:

Scopes are specialized devices that help probe into an internal organ using fiber optics. Endoscopes are the most widely used scopes.

Laser Guides:

Laser guides are used to make incisions in surgeries involving high precision such as eye and vascular surgeries. Cryotomes and ultrasound disruptors are some others in the same category. They classify as laser surgeries.

Rulers and Calipers:

Rulers and calipers are devices used to measure organs, blood vessels, etc. during procedures.
Recent times have seen advances in the field of surgical instruments with increased use of non-invasive and minimally invasive surgical procedures so as to cause as less trauma as possible in terms of tissue injury or anesthetic effects.