Health

The History of the Surgical Retractor

Meta: Surgical retractors revolutionised medical care. What is the history behind them? Let’s find out.

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6aomTW8ojbo (Unsplash)

The History of the Surgical Retractor

Medical science is a constantly evolving industry and has been for hundreds of years. New developments and breakthroughs promise even more effective and successful treatments for patients, while new instrument designs work to make healthcare professionals jobs far more straightforward.

Surgery retractors are used to hold open a cut or incision during an operation, allowing the surgeon to work on the patient unhindered. Retractors are among the oldest types of medical instrument still in use today. Let’s take a look at their history and discuss how they have developed over time. Keep reading to find out more.

The First Retractors

While archaeologists have made discovered that suggest the ancient Romans may have used retractors, the first recorded use of a surgical retractor was by an Indian doctor in the 4th century. While in the 7th century, doctors noted making use of a surgical retractor to perform a tonsillectomy. While these retractors would have been far more simplistic and rudimentary compared to the retractors in use by medical professionals today, they will still have performed their basic intended function.

Self-Retaining Retractors

Previously, surgeons would have to manually operate retractors when performing surgeon, which could negatively impact their ability to perform properly. However, this all changed with the advent of the self-retaining retractors.

First designed by Austrian doctor Franz Weitlaner in 1905, self-retaining retractors have a locking mechanism that allows the retractor to hold open incisions without the need for manual operation. This was a revolutionary development in the field of medicine, it allowed surgeons to use both hands when treating patients and significantly improved the service they were able to provide.

Self-retaining designs have evolved dramatically since this point. Newer designs, including those from June Medical, are ideal for minimising the need for excess personnel in the surgical room, and providing a clear field for surgeons. Specialised designs for different surgeries and different parts of the body are being pioneered to assist surgeons further during complex procedures, enabling the surgical world to continue evolving at a pace.

New Types of Retractors

Medical technology undergoes a constant process of analysis, review, and upgrading to further improve the care offered to patients and the efficacy of various treatments and surgeries. Modern retractors continue to be designed ergonomically, with a focus on ease of use, functionality, and patient comfort at the fore. New frame shapes and more durable materials have worked to improve retractors immensely, reducing the impact they can have on patients during surgery.


Presented by OmniAb – antibody discovery platform

Conclusion

The medical retractor can be used as an example of the incredible progress we see in medical technology. From the rudimentary, early prototypes, through developments in history, to the highly specialised and sophisticated instruments we see today, the history of the surgical retractor is a testament to how far medical science has come and works to give us hope for where it is heading in the future.