The best surgical retractor for each access

by Laurence Williams
27 November 2018, at 12:00am

Surgical retractors are essential tools to ensure good exposure to the surgical field and optimise access.

The retractors with adjustable racks are self-retaining and maintain their position without needing to be secured, which releases a pair of hands on the OR.

Blue offers specific retractors for different accesses, such as:

Finnochietto Rib Retractor: Used in thoracic surgeries, it has two parallel arms with atraumatic endings specially designed to fit the ribs.

Gosset Retractor: It is mostly used in abdominal surgeries, although it can also be used in thoracic and cervical procedures.

Spinlock knee distractor: Used in orthopedic surgeries to increase the space between the femur and the tibia and expose the meniscus. To insert it into the joint, the tips must be fully closed, so that they are superimposed and atraumatic. Without touching the articular cartilage, one tip should be placed in the femoral intercondylar space and the other in the tibial intercondylar cranial area, so that the two surfaces move parallel to each other and the position of the meniscus is as natural as possible. Distraction should be done gradually until it is possible to see the meniscus, at which point the distractor must be blocked with the spinlock or rack, which have a self-retaining capacity. The spinlock allows a greater accuracy of the opening distance.

Stifle Lever: This is used to elevate the trochlea during knee joint surgeries in large dogs. The atraumatic tip should be anchored caudally to the articular face of the tibia and the caudal face of the elevated curve of the elevator engages the trochlea, distributing the load to prevent trauma.

We can also provide more versatile retractors, such as:

Gelpi – These are among the most popular veterinary retractors. The arms extremities have small hooks, atraumatic or sharp, that engage in the incision line to maintain a good exposure of the surgical field. Gelpi with deep angle allows a greater reach and retraction of deeper tissues. The Gelpi Odd Leg are used in unilateral accesses in spinal surgery, as their asymmetrical arms can better adapt to the curvature of this region.

Weitlaner Retractor: It is used to deviate and hold tissues. The arms are slightly arched to minimise interference and optimise visibility and they end up in atraumatic parallel hooks that curve outwards.

Langenbeck Retractor: It is a manual retractor used in tissue retraction, particularly important in deep structure surgeries. It has a single wide hook in L, with blunt and atraumatic tip.

Senn Retractor: It is a manual tissue retractor, with double tip. One of the tips has three sharp hooks, which allows fixating the tissues more precisely, and is mostly used to hold fat tissue. The other end is made up of a single, wider and less traumatic hook.

Hohmann Retractor: This manual retractor is used to deviate, hold and protect during orthopedic surgeries and can also be used to aid in the manipulation of bones.

What’s the best retractor for your usual surgeries?

Send us your questions to

Laurence Williams