Types of Surgical Retractors

Getting a clear and unobstructed view of the surgical site is important during surgical procedures. Surgeons achieve this goal with the help of surgical retractors that hold great importance in surgical practices for their numerous advantages. In this blog, we are going to discuss different types of surgical retractors and their importance in the medical field.

Surgical retractors are ideally used to thoroughly hold wounds or incisions during surgical procedures. They provide better access and visibility to the exposed area of the surgical site by holding back underlying tissues or organs. Also, they generally comprise of angled/hooked or curved blade that aids in maintaining the desired position of a specified region of tissue. They are available in different sizes, shapes, and sizes.


When we talk about the advantages of surgical retractors, there are many but let’s break down a few of them:

  • They allow surgeons to navigate through minimally open and deep cavities in a better way and can be easily held by an assistant
  • Provide better visibility to the surgical site during and at the end of the surgery that benefits both the patient and the surgical team
  • Holdbacks the underlying organs or tissues for better exposure to the site

The applications of surgical retractors

Selection of the right kind of retractor is crucial as there is a vast range of retractors used in surgical practices. Moreover, different types of retractors have their own characteristics having blades of different sizes, shapes, and sharpness. Also, some retractors are interchangeable while others don’t. Let’s discuss the two broader categories of surgical retractors:


The two main broader categories of retractors are:

  •      Hand-held retractors- used manually and must be held by a surgeon or assistant during surgeries
  •     Self-retaining retractors-comprises of ratchet/clamp for holding the tissue by itself that allows surgeons to remain handsfree

Manual/ Hand-held retractors

The following are the most common types of hand-held retractors used by surgeons:

Senn retractors:

These are the most common types of double-ended manual retractors that are used to retract surface tissues primarily. These retractors can retract heavy tissues safely with their sharp three prongs. Also, these tools are majorly used in plastic surgeries, minor bone or joint surgeries, dissection of neck tissues, and thyroidectomies.

Ribbon (Malleable) retractors:

These surgical retractors are used to retract deep wounds. Interestingly, these retractors can be bent into different shapes to restrain the wound. Also, this flexibility allows surgeons to shape and mold the retractor according to the specific needs of the surgical field. Surgeons commonly employ this retractor when they have to follow a more customized and adaptable approach regarding tissue retraction.


These retractors are useful in both abdominal operations and small wounds. Also, these are greatly used to assist surgeons in superficial or shallow wounds. Army navy retractors have a unique design featuring blunt and curved ends and a secure grip that lifts organs or tissues out of the way gently. Moreover, they feature smooth and round tips to prevent damage to the surrounding tissues.

Farabeuf ​​​​​

These retractors are one of the most versatile manual retractors that serve multiple surgical purposes. These are greatly used in hand/ wrist procedures, dentistry, hernia repair, and other surgical procedures.

Hohmann retractor

These retractors are majorly used for pulling and holding back the soft tissues of wound edges. Also, this allows surgeons to expose the underlying contents easily. These are mainly used in orthopedic procedures to expose the bones.

Deaver retractors

These retractors are primarily used to retract chest or deep abdominal incisions. These tools are used in various general surgeries including cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) for removing the right lobe of the liver. Surgeons use this retractor in Truncal Vagotomy, a technique that involves removing the left lobe of the liver using the main trunk of the vagus nerve.

Richardson retractor

This essential tool is used to retract chest or abdominal incisions. Also, these are useful for holding back multiple layers of deep tissues. This retractor comprises a right-angled blade and is single-ended in design. Moreover, this retractor either comes with a grip handle or a loop handle to assist surgeons in different surgical scenarios.

Meyerding retractor

These retractors are used to hold back muscle and tissue in spinal and neuro surgeries such as laminectomy.

Self-retaining retractors

Self-retaining retractors hold their position and shape for an extended period of time once they are positioned and fixed. Some of the most commonly used are:

Weitlaner retractor

 These retractors are famous kinds of surgical instruments that are used in treating large bones and joints as well as basic plastic surgery procedures. This retractor features special prongs that are extremely useful during tissue dissection to separate incision edges efficiently. Moreover, it greatly expands the surgical field by providing a secure and precise separation of delicate incision planes through symmetrically controlled traction.

Finochietto Rib retractor

 This tool is also referred to as a rib spreader as it is designed to separate ribs in thoracic surgery specifically. This Retractor typically consists of a rib-spreading frame with adjustable arms that hold apart the ribs securely to create space for the surgeon to operate. Moreover, It is commonly useful in lung surgeries, cardiothoracic surgeries, and other procedures where access to the thoracic cavity is necessary.

Balfour Abdominal retractor

These retractors are essentially used during deep abdominal procedures for retracting incisions or wound edges. This retractor allows surgeons to work through the abdominal cavity area with its curved, blade-like frame. Also, it comes with adjustable arms that can be positioned to hold back the tissue and muscles of the abdomen.

The Hip retractor system

One of the most widely used special surgical systems is the Hip retractor system. These self-retaining hip retractors work incredibly during hip fracture surgery and hip arthroplasty and provide a clear view and excellent exposure during these procedures. Also, this system provides liberation by assisting the staff. In such procedures.

Gelpi retractors

These tools are commonly used in spine surgeries and in smaller surgical sites for retracting shallow incisions. These retractors have a unique shape that enables them to retract hard-to-reach incision sites. Moreover, the finger ring handles provide maximum control over the tool.

Wrap up

Surgical retractors play a vital role in all surgical scenarios because of their impeccable features. Also, these are essential equipment for every surgical tool kit in operating rooms. The list of surgical retractors is enormous, considering various types designed for the entire body. Moreover, these include the head, neck, torso, arms, and legs, as well as vital organs, tissues, and the approximately 100 trillion cells in the body.

One important point is that all types of surgical retractors are available in multiple sizes and patterns to suit different surgical applications. Therefore, surgeons have a vast range to choose from for their specific surgical requirements.

Why choose Acheron Instruments surgical retractors?

We at Acheron Instruments provide a vast range of various types of surgical retractors that can be used for plenty of different surgical procedures. Our surgical tools are crafted with highly qualified technicians, the latest technology, and the best quality material because we don’t compromise on quality.

Our ISO-certified surgical retractors are manufactured in high-quality German stainless steel material that makes these tools robust, durable, and reliable. Furthermore, these surgical instruments can be easily sterilized following the standard method of sterilization for tools. They are rust-free, lightweight, and can withstand environmental changes.

Don’t forget to check out our website to get an overview of our amazing products at the most reasonable prices. So, place your orders now and contact us for further guidance.


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