Equipment and Tools Commonly Used for Different Types of Surgery

Millions of surgeries are performed around the world every year. Surgery is defined as a medical procedure for the treatment of injuries or conditions that involves an incision or manipulation in which instruments are used.

Some treatments are elective cosmetic surgeries, some are corrective procedures and others are life-saving interventions. Highly trained surgeons who specialize in the procedure are tasked with the monumental job of performing surgeries, sometimes under very stressful situations.

Here’s a look at some of the tools that surgeons rely on to perform complex procedures within the body. Without them, the surgeries people need just wouldn’t be possible.


Most surgeries have one thing in common – they involve internal care by way of an incision. The tool that is most commonly used to make an incision is a scalpel. A scalpel is a specially designed knife with an extremely sharp detachable blade and thin handle. The design allows a surgeon to make very precise cuts of any length.

Sutures, Staples and Surgical Skin Glue

Surgeons also need tools to repair incisions once the surgery is complete. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on the surgery and site of the incision.

When incisions are small, a surgical skin glue like Dermabond can be used to quickly and safely close up the wound. It’s also sometimes used when there are deep dermal stitches for reinforcement.

Most people are familiar with the term stitches because they have been used for decades to close surgical incisions. But stitches refers to a method of wound closure when the surgeon used sutures (thread and needle) to stitch the wound shut. Today there are non-absorbable sutures that must be removed and absorbable sutures that broken down by the body on their own as the incision heals. Nonabsorbable sutures are used when the wound needs to be closed up for a longer period.

Surgical staples are a special kind of staple made of stainless steel, plastic, iron or titanium that’s used instead of sutures for internal wounds and skin incisions. They’re used in areas that are hard to stitch close and when circular end-to-end closures are needed. A disposable stapler is needed to apply skin staples.


Ideally, a surgeon wants to know as much as possible about what’s going on inside the body before they perform surgery. An endoscope can do just that. It’s a slim, flexible tool that’s inserted through a small incision. The endoscope has a camera on the end that allows the surgeon to view the body internally in real time.

An endoscope is often used before spine and joint surgery to examine the extent of damage or injury. Many times the endoscope reduces how invasive a surgery is and can help a surgeon avoid open surgery.

Imaging Machines

Imaging machines are another way for the surgeon to get a look inside the body before surgery. There are four common types of imaging equipment: X-ray machines, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, computed tomography (CT or CAT) scanners and ultrasound machines.

All of these pieces of equipment are used to produce internal images for diagnosis, however, they all work in different ways and on different parts of the body.

  • MRIs and ultrasounds do not involve radiation, therefore are typically considered safe for all patients.
  • MRIs are used to produce images of the brain, spine, heart, blood vessels, bones, joints and some organs.
  • CT is a specialized type of x-ray that takes cross-sectional images.
  • CT scans are primarily used to look for internal bleeding, blood clots, brain injuries, fractures, cancer and heart disease.
  • Ultrasounds used high-frequency sound waves to create images.
  • Ultrasounds are commonly used during pregnancy to monitor the health and development of babies, but they are also used to look at organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.
  • X-rays are generated using a type of radiation known as electromagnetic waves.
  • X-rays are often used to determine if a bone is fractured and the extent of the injury. This type of imaging can also detect pneumonia in the lungs and tumors in the breast.

Anesthesia Medications

Can you imagine having to be awake during a surgical procedure? It would be physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelming and would certainly affect the surgeon’s ability to do their job.

Anesthesia medications (gasses, topicals, and injectables) were developed to block pain in a certain area of the body or to fully sedate a patient. The use of these medications can be dangerous and must be performed by an anesthesiologist who is trained in administering the drugs.