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Medical & Surgical Forceps - Several Styles / Types

What Are Forceps Used For?

Medical Forceps are grasping-type surgical instruments used during surgeries and other medical procedures. Forceps are used for tweezing, clamping, and applying pressure. They can be used as pincers or extractors. They are used in emergency rooms, exam rooms, operating rooms and to render first aid. Similar to articulating tongs, forceps are often used for holding or removing tissue or for placing or removing gauze, sponges, or wipes. These handheld instruments have been in use for over 3 thousand years. They offer more precise function and technical efficiency than fingers by themselves can provide.

Set Ascending Direction

6 Item(s)

Set Ascending Direction

6 Item(s)

Forceps Anatomy

Anatomy of Forceps

What Are the Types of Forceps?

Forceps are designed with a hinge on one end or with a hinge towards the middle. When hinged at the end, forceps look similar to tweezers. When hinged toward the center, they look more like scissors.


Tweezer Style

The tweezer style forceps are often referred to as pick-ups, thumb forceps, tissue forceps or dressing forceps. Closure is activated by depressing the surgeon’s thumb upon one side of the forceps’ extension while a finger is on the opposite extension. By compressing the extensions together, these surgical tweezers grasp and hold tissue or other surgical materials. The spring tension shanks regulate how wide the instrument can open and how thick the tissue that can be held. This style is non-locking.

“Thumb” forceps come with several different tip options, including flat, serrated, cupped, ringed, grooved, teeth or diamond dusted. The tip shape may be straight, curved or angled. Serrations or teeth look more menacing for work with tissue, but actually cause less damage than flat forceps, since they require less pressure to maintain a firm grip. Smooth or cross-hatched forceps are used for removing sutures, removing dressings or drapes.


Typical Tweezer Style Forcep Designs

Tweezer Style Medical Forceps

Scissor Style

The scissor type forceps are often referred to as “ring forceps” because of the scissor like rings at one end for the thumb and forefinger. They are also referred to as hemostats or clamps. This hinged instrument connects two extensions together with a hinge near the center of the tool. The working end of this instrument grasps and holds while the other end is used to open and close the working end of the tool.


Typical Scissor Style Forcep Designs

Scissor Style Forceps

The scissor style is available in locking or non-locking designs. The locking versions allow the forceps to act as a latching clamp or to apply constant pressure. The most common locking forceps employ a ratchet device for the lock.


Locking Style

Locking Style Forceps


What Are Forceps Made Of?

Most medical forceps are made with durable materials, including stainless steel, high-grade carbon steel, titanium, plastic, polypropylene or a combination of alloys. The alloy version can include chromium, nickel or cobalt. Alloy tips are highly flexible and offer superior performance.  These materials can withstand the harsh environments of sterilization and autoclaving. The plastic constructed models are disposable while the steel and alloy models are usually reusable.


List of Popular Forceps Models

  • Adson – serrated jaws with wide, flat thumb grasp area used for delicate tissue.

  • Alligator – delicate spoon jaws designed for ears.

  • Allis – grasping jaws with ratchet lock for slippery tissue and organs.

  • Atraumatic – thumb style used for grasping fine tissue.

  • Babcock – grasping jaws for tissue.

  • Biopsy – cutting, grasping jaws for collecting specimens.

  • Bone – pincer design used for bone holding or removal.

  • Bulldog – spring-loaded, fine tipped used for manipulating fine tissue.

  • Crile – hemostatic design used for clamping blood vessels or tissue before cauterization or ligation.

  • Curettes – scoop design for scraping or debriding tissue or debris for cleaning.

  • Dissecting – dressing/tissue design with serrated or teeth tips.

  • Forester – looping design used for sponge holding or retrieving.

  • Halstead – delicate pattern teeth, hemostatic

  • Hemostat – arterial clamp design used for controlling bleeding during surgery.

  • Kelly – arterial clamp used for large blood vessels or heavy tissue.

  • Kocher – horizontal serrations along the entire jaw used for aggressively grasping medium to heavy tissue.

  • Magill – angled tips used for removals and to guide trach tubes.

  • Mosquito – straight or curved hemostatic clamp for delicate tissue or to compress a bleeding vessel.

  • Obstetric – similar to tongs used for grabbing or maneuvering during child birth.

  • Overholt – hemostatic design with finger ring and ratchet for grasping blood vessels.

  • Pennington – grasping design for holding tissues for suturing, hemostasis or body piercing.

  • Punch – angled with narrow extensions used for cutting out dense or resistant tissue.

  • Slotted – tissue grasping design used for inner ear or body piercings.

  • Splinter – thumb design used for grasping and removing small foreign objects or for holding bandages or sutures.

  • Sponge – looped tip with serrated opposing faces used for applying and mopping with swabs or sponges.

  • Suture – pincer tip used for grasping and extracting of sutures.

  • Thumb – tweezer design for grasping and holding tissue.

  • Tissue – tissue grasping design used to hold or manipulate various tissues.

  • Towel – perforating clamp used for securing towels or drapes.

  • Vulsellum – constructed with hooks at the tips used for obstetrics and gynecology procedures.



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Forceps Comparison Chart






Dressing Style


tweezer appearance with straight, curved or special angled tips

applying dressings, dressing removal, eye surgery

Hemostatic Style


Variants: Crile, Kelly, Mosquito, Mixter, Splinter

scissor appearance with locking ratchet

grabbing, holding, clamping, prevent blood flow,

Needle Style


scissor appearance with short tip and gold plated rings

needle holder for suturing

Obstetric Style


large smooth clamping device

assists with natal delivery during vaginal births

Splinter Style


Variants: Carmalt, Hunter, Stieglitz

scissor or tweezer style with triangular shape tip that has a fine, smooth, and serrated tips, curved or straight tips, with or without locking rachet

remove bone splinters, sutures, surgical procedures in tight, narrow areas

Splinter Style


scissor style with looped tips

clamping, gripping, holding, twisting tissue, inserting IUD, gynecological procedures, handling sponges, gauzes and wipes

Tissue Style


Variants: Adson, Allis

tweezer style with jaw teeth tips

grip tissue without causing damage

Towel Style


scissor style with claw-like tip

hold or place towel pieces, drapes, remove absorbent materials

Tubing Style


scissor style with clamping tip

tubing inducer



Vitality Medical offers a wide assortment of medical instruments for sale, including medical scissors, surgical staple removers, and scalpels.



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