Tools of the trade: Penlight torch



by Dr Tanji Batliwalla, Federation Veterinary Hospital, Corowa, NSW

A penlight is just a cheap little torch available pretty much everywhere. We have a couple in the surgery and they come in handy all the time.

What’s good about it

Whenever we have a dog with a potential snakebite, we immediately check the pupillary light reflex and the first thing I reach for is the penlight torch. We had a dog kick and break our otoscope the other day so we use the penlight as a much cheaper alternative when working around jumpy animals. Our otoscope with a light is often on charge anyway, but the penlight torch is always at hand.

I often use it for looking into deep wounds or into mouths and the back of the larynx. It’s quicker and easier than using our surgical light and very easy to direct the light exactly where I want. If I’m trying to find out how deep an abscess is draining, the penlight’s perfect for illuminating that sort of condition.

I also use it when examining parrots. I much prefer them to bite on the penlight instead of my finger. My nurse uses it to keep the birds distracted while I check out their wings or feet.

What’s not so good

Obviously, the penlight can’t be sterilised so we don’t use it in surgery if we’re doing any sort of dirty stitch ups.

However, this is such a cheap and simple torch, there’s little that could go wrong. It’s convenient, inexpensive and it does its job very well.

Where did you get it

I bought our penlight at Officeworks but they are available everywhere.


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