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Your Guide to Surgical Blade Sizes, Shapes, and Materials

November 8, 2023

Surgical blades and scalpels can often be seen as the premier instrument in a surgeon’s toolkit. They are used in nearly every surgical procedure, from simple incisions to complex operations. Surgical blades are designed to provide precision and control, allowing surgeons to make accurate cuts while reducing stress and damage to surrounding tissues and minimizing the risk of accidental injury for both the patient and clinician. For this reason, the size, shape, and material of a surgical blade can significantly affect the outcome of a surgery, making it essential for surgeons to choose the right blade for the procedure at hand. 

What are the Sizes and Shapes for Surgical Blades?

When it comes to size, surgery blades are available in a range of options to accommodate different types of surgeries. Smaller blades are typically used for more delicate procedures, such as eye surgery, while larger blades are used for more extensive operations, such as abdominal surgery. The size of the blade must be carefully chosen to match the specific needs of the procedure, as using a blade that is too large or too small can result in unnecessary damage to tissues and complications during the surgery.

Surgical blades come in a variety of shapes, each designed for specific types of procedures. For example, a curved blade is often used for making incisions in tissue, while a straight blade is typically used for cutting through bone. The shape of the blade must be chosen based on the anatomy of the area being operated on and the specific requirements of the procedure. Choosing the right shape can help to minimize tissue damage and improve the precision of the cut.

Surgical blades are available in a variety of sizes and sizes, each denoted by a number. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) scale, which spans from 10 to 25, is the most often used sizing standard.

  • The #10 blade is typically used for big skin and subcutaneous tissue cuts while the #20 blade is slightly larger and utilized for thicker tissues or dissection.
  • Blades #10, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 are curved and have a "belly" utilized for incisions, with the sharpest part at the apex of the belly.
  • The #15 is the tiniest and best for fine incisions.
  • Larger blades, such as the #22 and #23, are used for larger incisions like thoracotomies or laparotomies.
  • The sharp-pointed #11 blade is used for stab-style incisions and precision cuts, especially in shallow or recessed places.
  • The #12 blade is curved and is commonly used to remove sutures.

Surgical blade sizes and shapes according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) scale, which spans from sizes 10 to 25

What type of materials are used in Surgical Blades? 

The materials used in surgical blades are critical to their quality and function. While silver was once used to produce many types of blades and scalpels, modern surgical blades are usually made from stainless steel, carbon steel, or high-carbon stainless steel. Other materials such as ceramic, titanium, diamond, sapphire, and obsidian are far less common.

In some cases, the material used can be influenced by the operation, such as in MRI-guided procedures where steel blades could interfere with the magnets and the resulting image quality.

Stainless Steel

  • Stainless steel blades resist rust and retain their sharpness for a longer period.
  • Their durability ensures great cutting performance and lifespan.

Browse GLASSVAN® Stainless Steel Surgical Blades from MYCO Medical

Carbon Steel

  • Carbon steel blades are known for their sharpness and precision, making them ideal for procedures that require a high degree of accuracy.
  • Carbon steel blades are affordable and widely used in disposable scalpels.

Browse GLASSVAN® Carbon Steel Surgical Blades from MYCO Medical

High Carbon Stainless Steel

  • The benefits of carbon steel and stainless steel are combined in high-carbon stainless steel blades.
  • They are useful for complicated surgical procedures due to their improved sharpness, longevity, and resistance to corrosion.

Browse TECHNOCUT® Premium High Carbon Stainless Steel Surgical Blades from MYCO Medical 

Choosing the Right Size, Shape, and Material for Your Surgical Blade

In conclusion, the size, shape, and material of the blade must be carefully chosen to match the specific needs of the surgery, as well as the anatomy of the area being operated on. By choosing the right blade, surgeons can minimize tissue damage, improve precision, and ultimately achieve better outcomes for their patients. It is also important to ensure that the blade is sterile, well-maintained, and compatible with other instruments used during the procedure. By taking these factors into account, surgeons can ensure that they are using the best possible tool for the job and providing the highest level of care to their patients.

Get Blades, Scalpels, Handles and More from MYCO Medical

MYCO Medical is a NMSDC Certified Diversity Supplier specializing in delivering premium medical devices and disposables to health systems throughout the United States and Canada. Since 1993, we’ve helped countless hospitals and care centers overcome their biggest supply chain challenges and build a consistent stream of high-quality medical supplies.

Our Blades & Scalpels are made from premium high-carbon stainless steel, stainless steel, and carbon steel materials, using automated grinding and proprietary polishing processes to help ensure clean, consistent cutting edges and ergonomic feel for safe handling and ease-of-use. All sharps are manufactured to strict quality standards in FDA-inspected ISO 13485 certified facilities which utilize good manufacturing practices per USFDA standards.

Browse from our wide selection of durable carbon steel and Swiss stainless steel surgical blades, miniature blades, podiatry blades, blade cartridges, safety and conventional disposable scalpels, blade handles, and more, or contact our sales team today and receive a free complimentary sample and quote for our most popular products.

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