Surgical tool innovators

Famous instrument names: Mayo, Kaye & Hegar

Over the years, certain surgeons have developed such innovative surgical instruments that their names have become synonymous with instruments that deliver cutting-edge performance.

In this first of three articles, we look at renowned surgeons, the Mayo brothers, Kaye and Hegar, all of whom have created instruments that are so effective they remain in common use to this day.

1.       The Mayo brothers

Having opened their own clinic in 1919, brothers and pioneer surgeons William J. Mayo and Charles H. Mayo went on to develop what are now known as Mayo scissors.


Used extensively in plastic surgery and hand surgery, Mayo scissors are sturdy, blunt-bladed dissecting scissors used for cutting heavy structures, such as tough tissue and sutures.

The story of the Mayo brothers’ achievements is a fascinating one. Their approach at the clinic would be to see patients on one day and operate on them the next.

Having instruments that could help perform procedures quickly and precisely would have been a major asset in this rapid turnaround environment.  

2.       Kaye

Other instruments that are commonly used, include dissecting scissors and needle holders designed by Kaye.

Kaye dissecting scissors have serrated blades for ‘holding’ tissue and making it easy to cut precisely. Kaye face lift scissors have thicker blades, allowing for dissection of tougher soft tissue.

The Kaye needle holder is a delicate surgical instrument with short, fine jaws and sharp scissor blades. Intended for 5/o suture and finer, the scissor part enables suturing and cutting with one instrument.

3.       Hegar

Born in 1830, Alfred Hegar was a German gynaecologist who was a true innovator when it came to designing new surgical instruments.

These include ratcheted needle holders, as well as a variant with in-built scissors, which allow for suturing and cutting with the same instrument.

Hegar had an interesting life, having worked as a military physician in the army before going into private practice as an obstetrician and becoming professor for gynaecology and obstetrics at Frieburg University.

Looking for these innovative instruments now?

If you are interested in purchasing or seeing a demonstration of any of the instruments mentioned in this article please contact the Cairn Technology Instrument Team on 0845 226 0185 or email us at