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Forceps & Details

Forceps are handheld surgical instruments consisting of two blades and a handle used for grasping, handling, holding, and compressing.  The word “forceps” is derived from the Latin “formus” (hot) and “capere” (to grasp), defining an instrument designed to grasp, pluck, or lift something that’s too hot handle with one’s hands.  Though the word is plural in form, it is a singular object, just as scissors are, and may likewise be referred to as a “pair” of forceps.  They are similar in concept to tongs, tweezers, and pincers.


The story behind the invention of the modern forceps is quite intriguing.  They were invented around 1600 by obstetrician Peter Chamberlen and he and his brother went to great lengths to keep the instrument a family secret.  When they’d arrive at the home of a woman in labor, two people would carry a large gilded box inside.  The woman would be blindfolded and all other attendees were made to leave, then they would commence the operation.  The secret was kept until about 1730, shortly after the death of Hugh Chamberlen in 1728, whereupon it was leaked out and a public design of the instrument was made.


Since then, the instrument underwent many design innovations and today, there are many types of forceps used in just about every medical specialty there is.  From surgery to obstetrics, to emergency medicine, sports medicine, phlebotomy, and others, these instruments are required tools for every healthcare professional. 

Here are few categories that are commonly used:


     • Obstetrical Forceps – which aid in baby delivery
     • Tissue Forceps– a type of tweezers
     • Hemostatic Forceps – used to arrest blood flow; also referred to as a hemostat
     • Mosquito Forceps Forceps – a small hemostat
     • Alligator Forceps – an angled variety with jaws at the end