Orthopaedic surgeons try to restore the function of the skeletal system. This can include a hip replacement or hand surgery to release tendons for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The range of skill and instrumentation is wide. It can mean that the surgeon can use power drills in one surgery and delicate microsurgical instruments in another. Most of the instruments used in orthopaedic surgery are specialised and are classified according to their function.
There are cutting instruments used to cut through or remove bone, such as a ball joint from the hip or a limb. Most of the cutting instruments are powered tools. There are some that are used by hand, such as a straight hand saw or one that is called a "gigli saw." The gigli saw is a long wire with teeth that attach to handles. It is used to cut through bones in the lower leg. There are also bone cutting instruments that look like large wire cutters. In back surgery, instruments called a "rongeur" are used to bite-away at small bone. Automatic drills are used to install pins, plates and screws. Hand tools consist of pliers, screwdrivers, mallets and curettes used for skimming bone off the surface
Some instruments that are used in a general instrument tray can be used in orthopaedic surgery such as clamps, scissors and retractors. The clamps are used to stop vessels from bleeding. Scissors are used to cut through tissue and wire. Retractors are used to hold back muscle tissue so the surgeon can work freely.
On a smaller scale, microsurgery involves the same type of instruments. In hand surgery, instruments are used to clamp and cut. Tiny retractors are used to hold the wound open. Suture in microsurgery is sometimes so thin, it can hardly be seen by the naked eye. A microscope is necessary to view the surgical site in full view. Vessels and nerves are sometimes placed on a coloured strip of rubber to identify them more precisely.
Orthopaedic surgery probably uses prosthesis more than any other service. Joint replacement has become routine. During the replacement of a hip, large scale instruments are used. Power tools are used to cut through bone, reamers are used to clean out the leg bone, calipers are used to measure the head of joint, and chisels are used to smooth the bone. Glue is used inside the leg bone to hold the prosthesis in place. Knee and shoulder surgery involves the same type of instruments, but different prosthesis.
Skin grafts are used by taking a section from the patient with an instrument called a dermatome. This device slices a small section of surface skin. The graft is then placed in another device called a mesh graft. This instrument meshes the skin by placing small holes through it. The graft is then sutured to the surgical site in hopes that it will be accepted by the body, and generate new skin growth as well as covering and protecting the site.
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