Basic surgical instruments: All you need to know

The use of surgical instruments requires skills to perform the procedure correctly that's why It is important to learn about the most commonly used instruments in any surgical procedure.

In minor surgery, the use of surgical instruments requires skills to perform the procedure correctly. In addition to having the knowledge to perform the surgical procedures, it is very important to know how to handle the instruments. Since there is a lot of variabilities when it comes to instrument handling, it is convenient to indicate some of the most commonly used methods for any surgical procedure.


The scalpel is a very sharp object, so you must have total control while handling it. It is a widely used surgical instrument. Among the various ways to hold the scalpel are the following:

Using the fingertips is a technique widely used in minor surgery. This is used for long incisions since it allows precise handling due to the flexibility of the forearm, wrist and fingers.

With the palm of the hand, it is a way to exert enough pressure on the area. The hand and wrist are usually more fixed with this grip, but the scalpel is very limited in any manoeuvring.

The pencil shape is usually used for small, very precise incisions. The cutting direction can be changed 360 degrees by moving the hand and wrist. It is also one of the most commonly used.


Scissors also have different ways of being used in minor surgery, these are some of the most common:

The thumb and ring finger in the rings. This is the most common way to use scissors on a daily and surgical basis. It allows for fairly precise cutting of tissue and great handling and control of the instrument.

The thumb and index finger in the rings. With the palm of the hand, we hold the rest of the scissors. This gives you more control in the deep cavities and gives you more control in the direction.

Without inserting any finger in the rings. This way is very uncommon, but if you are left-handed and the scissors are for right-handers, it is a good way to solve the situation.

Needle holder

The handling of the needle holder in minor surgery is similar to the ways of using the scalpel, we can use 4 different ways:

Holding with the thumb and the ring finger. it would be the same as the one we have described above for the scissors.

Holding with the ring finger. This is only done if the needle holder is in the palm of the hand and only the ring finger is on one of the rings.

Clamping with the palm of the hand. As with the scalpel, it provides the greatest force and pressure when it is difficult to advance the needle.

Pencil grip. This way of holding the needle holder is usually exclusive to the Castroviejo type of needle holder.


There are several types of forceps in minor surgery, and depending on the use to which they are put, they can be divided into and tissue forceps and hemostatic forceps.

Tissue forceps: It is held with the thumb on one of the branches of the forceps and the index and middle finger on the opposite branch. This is the only recommended and most commonly used position because it offers great mobility for manoeuvring, and its main function is to approximate the edges of the tissues.

Hemostatic forceps: its main function is to exert pressure on a bleeding vessel in the field where we are performing minor surgery, for this, they are held in different ways:

Thumb and index finger. The thumb would be introduced in one of the rings and the index finger in the other. The clamp would be held with the palm of the hand and the middle and ring fingers would remain on top of the second ring.

Thumb and ring finger. This form of clamping is similar to that of scissors or needle holders, with the thumb on one ring and the ring finger on the other.

Multiple clamping. This occurs when more than one hemostatic clamp is needed at a time. In this case, the clamps will be held with the palm of the hand and applied one by one.

Remember that these are some recommendations, there is no specific or concrete rule for the handling of each of these surgical instruments. But we suggest the most useful ones for your daily practice in minor surgery.


Jensen Instrument Technologies is a long-established company distributing precision surgical instrumentation across Australia and New Zealand. Our company specialises in the supply of maintenance of precision mechanical, optical and power surgical instruments for surgical theatres. Learn more about us here.