Surgical scalpels consist of two pieces: a blade and a handle. Blades come in various shapes and sizes; each blade fits only one type of handle. The most basic type of handle measures four inches long and is usually made of stainless steel, which holds up well to cleaning solutions and sterilisation. The blade most often used in surgery is the no. 10, which has a single curved edge. Blades are disposable and packaged individually in a sterile foil wrapper. Other types of handles are used for hobbies. They're usually rounded, with a slot on the tip for the blade.
Open the blade package halfway, leaving the attachment portion of the blade in the wrapper. Expose the sharp edge until you see the attachment portion.
Take a curved hemostat from the surgical tray and grasp the right side of the blade above the attachment portion. Remove the blade from the wrapper.
Hold the scalpel handle in your left hand, with your thumb on the top of the handle and your fingers underneath. Keep your fingers away from the tip of the handle.
Holding the blade with the hemostat, place the opening of the blade over the attachment piece on the handle until it snaps into place. Be careful not to touch the blade with your hands. If the blade doesn't fit properly, remove it and reinstall.
Remove the blade to reinstall by holding the handle in your left hand. Gently push the back of the blade forward with your index finger while pulling the blade off with the hemostat. Keep your finger away from the blade edge and push forward from the connection site. Follow Step 4 to reinstall the blade.
Dispose of the blade after use in a "sharps box" by removing it as in Step 5 or by using an automatic scalpel-blade removal. Automatic systems allow you to place the blade into the device and remove it without touching it with your hands.
Installing a blade on a rounded handle used in crafts requires loosening the tip before placing the blade in the slot. Use a pair of forceps to install the blade, keeping fingers clear of the sharp edge. To remove the blade, loosen the tip slot and dispose of the blade in a sharps box, or place it back in its wrapper and put it in the trash.
Tighten gloves so the fingertips don't get caught when installing the blade.
Tips and warnings
- Tighten gloves so the fingertips don't get caught when installing the blade.