top of page

How to choose a scalpel blade for your application

There are some key points to consider when selecting surgical instruments for a procedure. Read this guide to know what you need to consider.

In this article, I want to talk to you about how to choose scalpel blades, an object as simple as necessary to perform surgical procedures. Whether it is a small incision or a very delicate operation, the choice of the best scalpel blade is essential for the success of an operation.

1. Fixed and removable scalpel blades

Although fixed or removable blade scalpels are still popular, disposable or single-use blade scalpels are preferred nowadays to maintain higher hygiene standards. The practice of changing scalpel blades also helps prevent deterioration in cutting quality due to wear and tear of the blade used. Disposable blades, however, naturally carry a higher disposal cost, an issue addressed by a team of British, Danish and Italian researchers in the now well-known Disblade project.

Commercially available scalpel blades are thin, flat and very sharp to allow a straight cut.

2. Sizes and shapes of scalpel blades

Scalpel blades should be chosen according to their quality and their use, taking into account the medical specialization of the person who will use them.

In relation to the specific use to be made, there are various types of suitable blades. Therefore, there are straight scalpels, with a straight blade; curved scalpels, with a curved blade; buttoned scalpels, with a blunt or rounded tip; bell-shaped scalpels, with a central convexity of the blade. Other scalpels are more robust for particular use in orthopaedics, to shape plastered appliances.

In addition to quality, you will know very well that it is necessary to select the right size of the blade to be used according to the specific intervention to be performed. In fact, there are blades of different sizes, indicated by a specific numbering:

Blade number 10

Used for standard dissections

Blade number 11 - 12

Used on cavity formations for its pointed shape

Blade number 13 - 15

Used to operate on the face or for very precise incisions that require great delicacy

Blade number 22 - 24

Used for major surgeries that require long, deep cuts.

Why aren't all scalpel blades the same?

There are many reasons why one scalpel blade is better than another, and you can surely add more to the list. However, at the top of the list of factors that make a scalpel perfect, you and your colleagues would agree to put the durability of the blade's edge.

Once you've made the first few cuts of an operation your hand calibrates itself to the scalpel you're using to accurately and precisely perform the job. In the event that the blade progressively loses incisiveness, your operation, in spite of skill, can become erratic and lose confidence and precision.

The best thing for a doctor when using a scalpel is therefore to have in his hands a blade of constant performance.

Continuous effectiveness of a scalpel blade

It is guaranteed by the use of high-quality manufacturing materials, including stainless steel. This is the case of the Jensen Instrument scalpels, whose blades are made of English stainless steel and rolled with an open edge, i.e. sharpening both sides of the blade and then carefully grinding only one side. This method of working gives blades of all sizes an edge that ensures a perfect result over time.

A sensitive and flexible blade

In addition to its sharpness, the ideal scalpel blade is one that allows you to act according to the sensitivity of your hand. In addition to the touch, the Jensen Instrument blades are flexible: before they break they visibly bend, giving you the opportunity to change them before they break or wear out permanently.

Gamma sterilized blades

In addition to being disposable, thus ensuring maximum hygiene, the blades are sterilized before being packaged in disposable containers very similar to those of syringes. The process is safer when the object undergoes gamma-ray sterilization, as in the case of Jensen Instrument scalpels, which guarantees absolute disinfection.

The scalpel handle and its use

As you well know, the scalpel blade needs an indispensable and equally important accessory for the success of an operation: the scalpel! Unlike the blade, the scalpel is often reused after a cycle in the sterilization oven or autoclave. Its repeated use makes the handle an accessory whose handling is essential. The handle of the scalpel must in fact be comfortable and safe, to avoid any inaccuracies in the cut due to uncontrolled movements of the blade. For this reason, it is advisable to have handles with a non-slip grip, easily available on the market.

Whether you need to use a pen grip, a fingertip grip or a palm grip, with the non-slip grip you will have greater safety in carrying out your interventions.

Some curiosities about scalpel blades

After talking about the choice of scalpel blades, I would like to explore with you the origins of this tool and its name.

The first scalpels appeared in ancient Egyptian surgery. Traces of the first incisions for medical purposes made with very sharp obsidian blades have been found from that period.

The modern scalpel, as we know it today, owes its name and its characteristics to an ancient factory in Pistoia of knives and double-edged knives called "pistorienses" (a Latin expression to indicate the inhabitants of Pistoia). From this Latin term derives the Italian word "pistorini", name given to the knives produced by the famous factory and changed with time in "bistorini" or "bisturini". The French then translated it into "bistouri", a term which in Italy definitely changed into "bisturi".

With this name, the very sharp instrument went through different historical periods, until the 19th century, the beginning of its mass production.


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.


Find this helpful?
Get helpful tips and guides in your inbox

Thanks for submitting!

Share Your ThoughtsBe the first to write a comment.
bottom of page