Needle Holder vs Hemostat - complete detail

Needle Holder vs Hemostat: Learn some Interesting differences

Quick Answer

A hemostat is used to constrict blood vessels or tissue to stop bleeding, whereas a needle holder is used to retain and manipulate needles during surgical procedures. Hemostats feature shorter, serrated jaws to grab tissue or vascular better, whereas needle holders have longer, smooth jaws to retain needles without injuring them.

Covered in detail differences and factors to consider for: Needle Holder Vs Hemostat.


In the field of surgery, accuracy is crucial. Surgeons use specialized equipment, including needle drivers and hemostats, to achieve this. Although these tools appear identical at first glance, they have various functions and diverse responsibilities to perform during surgery. 

Please continue reading to learn more about the crucial distinctions between needle holders and hemostats and their significant roles in contemporary surgery.

Needle Holder

Definition and Uses

An expert surgical tool, a Needle Holder, is used to retain and control surgical needles during procedures. A needle holder’s job is to hold and feed surgical needles through the tissue to stitch or close wounds. These tools are crucial in surgical operations requiring precision stitching, such as plastic surgery, ophthalmology, and heart surgery.

Design and Parts of a Needle Holder

Let’s have a look at the basic design and parts of a needle holder;

  1. Handles: The handles of a needle holder are made to suit the surgeon’s hand pleasantly and to offer a secure grasp. They are frequently constructed of stainless steel and coated with a non-slip coating to avoid slippage during use.
  2. Joint: The pivot point between the handles and the jaws of a needle holder is called the joint. Because of how it is made, the handles may be moved to open and close the jaws.
  3. Shank: The shank is the long, narrow part of the needle holder that extends from the joint to the working end. It may be curved or straight, depending on the type of needle holder.
  4. Jaws: The needle holder’s jaws are the component that matters the most. They are curved, long, and thin to properly manipulate and position needles during surgical procedures. A needle holder’s jaws are typically flat and smooth to prevent harm to the surgical needle. The jaws are frequently cross-hatched or serrated to give the needle a greater grip and prevent sliding. To increase their longevity and grip, some needle holders additionally contain a tungsten carbide inlay at the tip of the jaws.
  5. Lock: The lock is the mechanism that holds the jaws of the needle holder closed when pressure is applied. This allows the instrument to grip the surgical needle securely during suturing.
Needle Holder Parts


Definition and Uses

Hemostat or hemostatic clamp is a crucial surgical tool that helps surgeons achieve hemostasis. Their job is to secure blood loss during surgical procedures. Hemostats are widely used during surgical procedures, such as orthopedic, cardiovascular, and general surgery. Surgeons also use them for visualizing deeper surgical sites.

Design and Parts of a Hemostat

Let’s explore the fundamental structure and components of a hemostat;

  1. Handles: The Hemostat’s handles are the component the surgeon or other medical expert grasps when using. Usually, they are made to be ergonomically convenient to hold for long periods.
  2. Joint: The joint is the pivot point that joins the Hemostat’s two parts. It enables the working end of the instrument to be moved and positioned in a controlled manner.
  3. Shank: The shank of a hemostat is the long, narrow section that runs from the joint to the operating end. Depending on the type of Hemostat, it might be curved or straight.
  4. Jaws: A hemostat’s jaws are short and curved or straight. They are made to offer a powerful clamping force to halt bleeding or retain tissue while doing surgery.
  5. Lock: The lock is the mechanism that keeps the working end of the Hemostat closed when pressure is applied, enabling the tool to clamp down on tissue or veins while maintaining the necessary force to control bleeding.
Hemostat Parts (1)

Needle Holder Vs Hemostat : Differences

Difference # 1: Functionality

The primary function of a needle holder is to grasp, hold, and pass surgical needles through tissue for suturing or wound closure. In contrast, a hemostat is used to clamp blood vessels or tissue to control bleeding. I explained the role of the needle holder and Hemostat in suturing in an article, “Are Hemostats Used For Suturing?”.

Difference # 2: Design

Needle holders have long, smooth jaws designed to hold needles without damaging them. Hemostats have shorter, serrated jaws to grip tissue or vessels better.

Difference # 3: Types

Needle holders come in various types, including Mayo-Hegar, Olsen-Hegar, and Castroviejo. Hemostats also come in different types, including Kelly, Crile, and Mosquito. I mentioned all hemostats in an article about Hemostat Types for all uses. 

Difference # 4: Usage

Hemostats are used to secure blood loss during surgical procedures. On the other hand, needle holders are used for the precise stitching of wounds in surgeries. I explained the role of Hemostat in the article, “Do Hemostat stop bleeding?”

Difference # 5: Sterilization

Needle holders and hemostats can both be sterilized using an autoclave. But, tissue debris can be trapped in the serrations of hemostat jaws, so it needs a more rigorous cleaning process, such as manual cleaning with enzymatic cleaners.

needle holder vs hemostat

Which one to use? Factors to Consider

It’s crucial to consider several criteria while employing needle holders and hemostats during medical operations to get precise results. Among these elements are:

No. : Type of surgical procedure

When selecting whether to employ needle holders and hemostats, it’s vital to consider the surgical technique. Needle holders, such as wound healing or surgical incisions, are used during suturing operations. At the same time, hemostats are frequently employed in operations involving delicate organs, blood arteries, or tissues for clamping and preventing blood loss.

No. 2: Location of the surgical site

Another crucial aspect to consider is the surgical site’s location. For instance, a lengthy or angled hemostat may be required if the surgical site is in a difficult-to-reach place or has restricted access. Contrarily, a needle holder is necessary if the tissue is challenging to move or has little space.

No. 3: Size and accessibility of the tissue to be manipulated

Considering tissue size and accessibility is essential in choosing the right surgical instrument. For instance, hemostats are more suited for larger, more robust tissues requiring greater clamping power, while needle holders are suitable for smaller, more delicate tissues for precise suturing.

No. 4: Experience and preference of the surgeon

The surgeon’s experience and preference are also necessary when choosing a needle holder or a hemostat. Different surgeons have different techniques and choices for using other surgical instruments; thus, selecting the right type and size of tool depends on it.

Appropriate Situations for Using a Needle Holder

As needle holders offer a secure grip on the needle and permit accurate needle placement and control throughout the treatment, they are frequently employed in procedures that entail suturing or sewing tissue. Moreover, needle holders are perfect for manipulating minute amounts of tissue, where accuracy and control are essential. 

A fine-tipped needle holder can offer the accuracy needed to prevent tissue injury when the tissue is fragile or sensitive. An additional advantage of using a needle holder is that it enables the surgeon to have a steady grasp on the needle throughout procedures involving several stitches, which lowers the risk of mistakes or problems.

Appropriate Situations for Using a Hemostat

Hemostats are frequently used during procedures when controlling bleeding is crucial, such as vascular surgeries where blood arteries must be blocked to stop excessive bleeding. They are perfect for more extensive tissue manipulation requiring a firm grasp to maintain control and prevent tissue injury.

They are handy when it is challenging to grasp the tissue because hemostats’ jaws can be locked in place, giving them a more stable hold than other surgical tools.

Contraindications and Risks

Both needle holders and hemostats have risks and contraindications that should be considered. Needle holders can cause tissue damage or necrosis, needle breakage, and crushing or tearing of the tissue if not used properly. 

At the same time, the improper use of a hemostat can also damage sensitive tissues, vessels, and nerves, leading to various complications and risks during surgical procedures. Using these instruments cautiously and only in appropriate situations is important to ensure the best patient outcomes.


In conclusion, hemostats and needle holders are essential surgical tools in various medical operations. Although their operation and design share similarities, they were created for distinct reasons and should only be utilized in the right circumstances. 

Hemostats are generally used to reduce bleeding during surgical operations, whereas needle holders are used primarily to suture during surgical procedures. 

Both pieces of equipment have possible hazards and contraindications; therefore, it’s crucial to use them correctly, adhere to suggested sterilization procedures, and closely monitor patients for indications of adverse responses or consequences.