28th June 2016
by Edward Sheppard

As a leading supplier of sterile single-use surgical instruments, we receive a wealth of feedback that we build into our programme of innovation and product quality. One of our largest products is our range of Crocodile Forceps that grow every year as a key part of our success.

The demand for high quality Crocodile Forceps comes from several sources, the difficulty cleaning, the potential for damage, losses and shortages in one of the busiest clinical areas, namely ENT.

But what makes a perfect product that surgeons will want to use; here we examine some of the detail that brings DTR Medical such an unrivalled reputation.

  1. Get a grip!

Forceps must grip is obvious, but this is not a given in the area of single-use supply where misaligned tips can mean the force needed to hold something is excessive and not sustainable throughout a whole session.

In the case of the finer features, will a serrated jaw grip a suture is important to know? Where Fine Crocodile Scissors are used, there is added importance that the blades will meet along their length and cut at the pointed tip. Many single-use scissors suffer this and it is really important to be fully affective when such instruments are used.

  1. Does Size Matter?

Most definitely when their use is mainly ontological but single-use products from different suppliers have annoying differences so sometimes they are too short and hard to reach into the ear canal, or conversely too long and not comfortable to use.

Consistent quality really matters and consistency is a major part of the confidence we receive from our customers.

  1. Microscopic attention – blemishes, reflections, true and straight

Quite often Crocodile Forceps are used with an ENT Microscope and this means the quality stands out more than for many other instruments. Everything is magnified so will notice immediately when things are not right. Traditionally this has been an important reason for the switch to single-use and our responsibility is to see we maintain the quality even under such a focus.

A high quality single-use crocodile forceps will have no blemishes and it will be straight and true. With the accompanying use of a powerful light source, there is also a significant need for the instrument to be non-reflective usually as a result of a uniform coating of a matt black finish. Such a small feature makes all the difference to the ENT surgeon who still has good vision of the procedure site, saving time and minimising patient trauma.

  1. Pattern makes Perfect!

A key instrument for the otologist, it has benefitted from innovation over the years. The surgeon needs to be able to choose the right pattern for the task. Hartman, Henckel, Ormerod Forceps and Scissors are just a few and each is adapted to suit a particular functions with serrated, cupped, elongated jaws or straight or curved blades. Commonly, these include removing wax sutures or hairs and some foreign bodies. Many hospitals keep the range to ensure they have the right item for the procedure each time.

  1. Speculate on Jaw size – small is beautiful!

Many ear procedures involve the use of Ear Specula and some like Ovals have narrow apertures only 2.5mm wide. These are popular for treating children where the ear canal and hence working space is greatly reduced.

There are many sources of Crocodile Forceps that cannot fit into small specula because they have jaw lengths of 7.5 to 10.0mm. We learnt this in our earliest days and our forceps all have jaws of 5mm or less.

For paediatric use or where good vision is critical, our Extra Fine Crocodile Forceps offer a jaw size of 3.5mm by 0.9mm so they will fit easily into the smallest specula. Understandably, this is a very popular product used by many hospitals.

  1. Does the Jaw open?

We may appear to be getting pedantic now, but from the feedback we receive, surgeons need the jaw to open adequately to perform the intended function; not all do! This suggests that others suppliers compromise on quality which re-enforces the value we bring to this single-use sector.

  1. Width matters too!

The finest jaws can only be realised by having a slender shaft that still retains the strength needed to hold the jaw in place when operated.

Once again, our Crocodile Forceps all feature strong and slender shafts that are no wider than the hinge point of the jaw. Obviously anything wider means the working site is much harder to visualise.

  1. Is it Clean?

Much of the Crocodile Forceps produced in the world come from the Far East where production standards often vary despite regular checks. Our experience is that even the best suppliers are unable to achieve zero levels of contamination required before allowing product into our processes. This is why we have a Cleanroom Manufacturing Facility in Wales to minimise particulate and microbiological contamination.

Every single one of our Crocodile Forceps receives 100% inspection to ensure it is free from contamination that usually comes from lint from cleaning wipes or metal filings from manufacturing. Whatever the source, these are unwelcome contaminants that we know our customers will not want to experience. The threat to the patient from even sterile pieces getting into a wound site is unacceptable in all circumstances.

We seek to inspire confidence and our reputation for quality and superior cleanliness is very important to our customers.

  1. Quality Assurance

We set rigorous specifications for all our products and crocodile forceps have some of the tightest. To ensure we are offering the right product, we conduct full inspections and dimensional checks on every instrument. This way variation is minimal and we can assure the instruments are fit for purpose.

This is expensive and time consuming, but is at the heart of what we seek to deliver to our customers. “Without compromise” has been a feature of our promotion and this applies to Crocodile Forceps like everything else we do.

Perfection Delivered

Crocodile Forceps has been a core product in our development over ten years. As one of the first lines we identified as needing improved quality, it has served as a benchmark for much of our more recent innovation.

However, all the investment in getting the product right only matters when we deliver it consistently as part of a service our customers can rely on.