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A hemostat (also called a hemostatic clamp, arterial forceps, or pean after Jules-Émile Péan) is a surgical tool used in many surgical procedures to control bleeding. For this reason it's common to see the initial incision lined with hemostats which close blood vessels awaiting ligation during the initial phases of surgery. Hemostats belong to a group of instruments that pivot (similar to scissors, and including needle holders, tissue holders and various clamps) where the structure of the tip determines the function.
The hemostat has handles that can be held in place by their locking mechanism. The locking mechanism is typically a series of interlocking teeth, a few on each handle, that allow the user to adjust the clamping force of the pliers. When locked on, the force between the tips is approximately 40 N (9 lbf).
Hemostats are part of the first aid kit carried by combat medics and paramedics. They are also used as heatsinks while soldering electric circuits; as tools to hold the filter of marijuana cigarettes; by fishermen to remove hooks from the mouths of fish; by motor mechanics to hold nuts, bolts, screws in constricted locations, and as tools to feed prey to captive reptiles and exotic invertebrates without being stung or bitten.
The earliest known drawing of a pivoting surgical instrument dates back to 1500 BC on a tomb at Thebes, Egypt. Later Roman bronze and steel pivot-controlled instruments were found in Pompeii. In the ninth century AD Albucasis made illustrations of pivoting instruments for tooth extraction.
The concept of clamping a bleeding vessel with an instrument before tying it off is generally attributed to Galen (second century AD). This method of hemostasis was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered by the French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré in the 16th century. He made the predecessor to the modern hemostat and called it the Bec de Corbin (crow's beak) (see image below). With it he could clamp a bleeding vessel before securing it with a ligature.
List of hemostats
- Rankin forceps
- Crile forceps
- Halsted Mosquito forceps
- Mixter "right angle" forceps
- Hartman "Gnat" forceps
John Kirkup, MD, FRCS "The Evolution of Surgical Instruments" - historyofscience.com