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Disposable vs. Reusable Surgical Instruments: The Pros and Cons

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Surgery is a delicate process which requires the appropriate staff, facilities, and instruments. Careful consideration governs the selection of surgeons and their teams. Operating rooms are furnished with the right equipment to meet the requirements of a given procedure. Surgical tools also present buyers with a range of options. There is no “one right answer” in deciding whether to buy reusable or disposable instruments. Below is a list of pros and cons of disposable vs. reusable surgical instruments.

Disposable Instruments


  • Sterile: Instruments are shipped in sterile packaging. Each device is only used during one operation, maximizing patient safety.
  • No cleaning required: Disposable items can be used immediately without pre-cleaning
  • Saves money long-term: No need to pay for cleaning chemicals, repairs, or maintenance.


  • Difficult Disposal: After use, surgical instruments must be disposed of and stored as “Biohazard,” which can become complex or costly.
  • Environmental Impact: Several sets of disposable surgical instruments take up far more space than one reusable set, both in the storeroom and the landfill.
  • Higher purchase price: A thousand disposable tools will have a significantly higher purchase price than one or two reusable ones.

Reusable instruments


  • Low initial cost: Per surgery, reusable instruments cost far less to buy than their disposable counterparts.
  • Saves space: Reusable instruments occupy a precise amount of space regardless of how many surgeries they are to perform.
  • Avoid hassle of orders and inventory: Disposable tools require a paid individual to oversee inventory and ordering, thus adding to overall cost. Shipping issues may render crucial equipment unavailable.


  • Cleaning can be costly both with supplies and labor costs: Trained professionals must be paid while cleaning surgical tools, and the supplies they use add to the cost per use.
  • Repairs and malfunctions: With repeated use, surgical instruments require repair and maintenance, which may be costly. If the device malfunctions during a procedure, the results can be problematic.
  • Less sterile: A used instrument is infinitely more likely to be contaminated than an unused one, regardless of how thoroughly it was cleaned.

Advantages and disadvantages exist for most operating room purchases. Surgical instruments are no exception. Each institution has a unique set of circumstances and, therefore, a unique set of needs. Both reusable and disposable instruments can be effective, so consider the points listed above when determining which type will be the best fit for your facility.

For more information and resources about medical instruments, devices, and industry news, visit the Medical Device Storeblog.