Instruments Care and Handling

A retractor is a surgical instrument that is used to hold back underlying organs and tissues, so that body parts under the incision may be accessed without any fear of damage to the organs lying at the above levels. Surgical retractors have a wide variety and retractors come under various shapes, sizes and strength.

Importance of Surgical Retractors

During the dissection/inspection, a surgeon needs an exposure best as possible while inflicting a minimum of trauma to the surrounding tissue. The handles of the retractor may be hook-shaped, notched, or ring-shaped to give the holder a firm grip without tiring. The blades of the retractors are at a right angle to the shaft. The blades can be smooth, raked, or hooked.


Surgical retractors require a very high-grade stainless steel as they hold internal organs during an operation. A common material used in the making of retractors is superior grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is preferred because of its strength and its ability to be sterilized. The retractors are therefore extremely hard. However, there are some drawbacks of stainless steel retractors like they become very slippery when they come into contact with blood and other body fluids which can lead to tissue damage during operation. Moreover, stainless steel is also thermally highly conductive which also results in tissue injury as it quickly absorbs heat from the tissue with which it comes in contact. Another disadvantage is that they have reflective surfaces which produce glare under the high-level illumination which is very common during surgical procedures.

Instruments Check-Up
The best time to check instruments is after they have been cleaned, lubricated, and have cooled off.

Please check the following:

  1. Function Checkup:

Splitters, nippers, and scissors must cut cleanly and close properly.Needle holders and clamps must engage properly and meet correctly at the tips.
Instruments which have been dropped or otherwise damaged should be inspected carefully for cracking, bent tips or breakage.2. Surface Examination:
Inspect the surface for any signs of staining or other irregularity. If you find any staining, investigate the source and avoid it in the future.