What are the Most Common Metals in Surgical Instruments?

We wouldn’t be talking about this if stainless steel surgical instruments weren’t on the list for exacting medical application. The thing is, not only is stainless steel on the list, it’s on the top of that list hands down! Take a look.

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Tantalum
  • Platinum
  • Palladium

Understandably, finding the right metals to use in the medical industry is something of an exact science. Anything short of perfect could lead to unfortunate consequences. It is a fact that not all metals are up to the job.

Platinum and Palladium have unique properties so, although pricey, are used in certain applications. They have the needed flexibility, are compatible with the human body, and are corrosion resistant.  Titanium is similarly biocompatible, even boasting qualities that blend with our bones. This has made it desirable for pins, rods, planks, and of course for dental implants.

Enter Stainless Steel for Surgical Instruments

Somewhat reminiscent of the tale of the Three Bears, stainless steel is not too soft and not too hard. Many surgical instruments need to be ductile – long and thin, and stainless steel can take those constraints without losing its strength.  ‘The surface needs to be harsh with a final touch of satin,’ Wrangler Instruments points out, and it needs to remain inert in the physical body, so it doesn’t move and cause damage when used internally.

The same source explains that ‘over 80% of the Conventional surgical instruments produced worldwide in both types, the single-use, and re-usable instruments. The most commonly used SS are austenitic 316 stainless and martensitic 440 and 420 stainless. Surgical steel is the most corrosion-resistant form of stainless steel.’

Because stainless steel can withstand temperatures as high as 400 degrees Celsius, it is a synch to sterilize at the required autoclave of 180 degrees C.

In short, stainless steel is not only perfect for surgical instruments but it is affordable and plentiful. Making precision implements for the medical industry is thus another badge on the wall of stainless steel’s long list of achievements.