Which Metals Are Used to Make Surgical Instruments?

Surgical instruments may be designed for general use in surgery or may be designed for a specific procedure. It is important that the material used to make instruments can be molded into very specific shapes without losing strength, so often they are made of metal. Instrument shape may be long and thin, so the material used to make them needs to be ductile.

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It is essential that the material used for making surgical instruments is inert. The instruments may be inserted into the human body, so any reaction could have serious clinical consequences. The material must have a finish which can be easily cleaned, as it is very important that surgical instruments can be decontaminated in order to stop the spread of disease.

Not all metals are suitable for making surgical instruments - in particular, base metals may not be appropriate - so instruments are commonly made from metal alloys. There are several metals which are frequently used to make surgical instruments as they have suitable properties and can be strongly linked with the use of a metal bonding adhesive.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most frequently used metals for making surgical instruments, as it is tough and resistant to corrosion. Instruments are often sterilized in an autoclave, which involves heating them up to 180° C, but stainless steel can be safely heated up to 400° C, so autoclave sterilization is not a problem. Stainless steel is also relatively cheap and has been shown to be effectively joined by a 
metal bonding adhesive.

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Titanium is a popular choice for making surgical instruments, as it has the extremely high tensile strength and is almost completely resistant to corrosion. It also has greater flexibility than stainless steel and is significantly lighter.


Tantalum is a highly ductile metal which also has an extremely high melting point. One of its most important qualities when considering surgical instruments is that it has high biocompatibility. This means it is immune to bodily fluids so will not cause adverse effects in surgery.

Platinum and Palladium

Platinum and palladium are expensive metals, but despite their high cost they are sometimes used for surgical instruments. Both metals are malleable and have high ductility. They are also inert and resist corrosion, making them good choices for surgical instrument manufacture.

Published by Sunil Pandey


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