The surgical retractor is a useful implement that is a major part of any surgery in the body’s cavity. This instrument has been around for much longer than you might imagine, and it is still evolving even today. Let’s take a closer look at the long history of this vital device.
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Over 1000 Years Old
Believe it or not, but the retractor has actually been around for over 1000 years. It was developed by a surgeon called Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, also known by his Latin name Abulcasis, who is referred to as the father of modern medicine.
He created many pioneering methods that helped to revolutionise medical practices in the Middle Ages. Amongst his many inventions was what we would recognise as the medical retractor. Though it was not the first – with plenty of evidence of retractor-like devices dating back to the basic tools of the Stone Age – al-Zahrawi was the one to describe retractors and how to use them in great detail. This information appeared in the final volume of his seminal text, the thirty-volume encyclopaedia Kitab al-Tasrif. Many of the tools and treatments we use nowadays, with retractors being just one, were initially laid out and described by al-Zahrawi in this text.
Jan Mikulicz-Radecki was one of the most influential surgeons of his time. He was a pioneer of various surgical practices and he created many techniques that are still used today. Of his many inventions, he is also credited with developing surgical masks and using medical gloves during operations.
In addition to these innovations, in 1904, he was credited with inventing a hinged rib spreading retractor. This was thought to be one of the first major modern developments of the retractor and came after a lot of improvements to surgery as a whole throughout the 20th century.
The Modern Retractor
There have been many updates to medical retractors over the past century. One of the most recent has been the innovative surgical retractor by June Medical. This is a lightweight retractor that has helped to innovate this key area of surgery.
Most crucially, it is self-retaining. This means that it does not need to be held by a surgeon or assistant, and it can also be adjusted with just one hand. It is also made of a single-use plastic. It will arrive sterile and ready to be used in the operating theatre and then can safely be disposed of afterwards – rather than having to ensure that it is properly sterilised for the next patient.
This is just one of the many innovations that we have seen throughout the world of healthcare, and it shows just how long these devices have been used for. By continuously developing techniques and improving on what was laid down potentially thousands of years ago, there is always the chance that we can discover something new. In the world of healthcare, this will allow us to create better standards of care and results for patients as we continue to progress.