What is a surgical retractor?
Surgical retractors are tools that help surgeons widen and hold an incision or wound open to maintain a clear surgical field during operations. It can also be used to hold back organs or tissues blocking the view of the surgical site. Retractors can either be hand-held, table mounted or self-retaining with a ratcheting mechanism. The main surgeon, surgical assistant as well as scrub nurse all play a vital role to help hold the retractor and maintain retraction for the operating team to visualize the surgical site well.
What is a lighted surgical retractor?
Standard retractor systems are only able to support surgeons in exposing the surgical cavity for the operating team to visualize and carry out their work. However, for surgical cavities that are deep, narrow, or are at an angle, illumination from the overhead operating room lights or headlights are insufficient since lighting is unable to effectively penetrate the surgical site.
By integrating a light source within the retractor itself, a lighted surgical retractor provides added value to the surgeon in terms of visualization. Being equipped with such an instrument resolves the current core issue of suboptimal illumination within such challenging surgical cavities.
Are lighted surgical retractors outdated?
Lighted retractors have been used in operating rooms over the last 50 years. First introduced in the 1970s, lighted retractors were typically connected to external light sources through fibre optic cables. This requirement for additional long wires and light source equipment around the operating table can prove to be a hassle for the operating team to not only set up but also to navigate around it during the operation. Furthermore, these lighted retractors are associated with some safety concerns such as burn risks for both the patient and operating team.1,2
Modern day lighted retractors commonly utilize a single light-emitting diode (LED) integrated into the retractor blade and are battery operated, handheld and portable. These features overcome the challenges with conventional lighted retractors but are still limited in their ability to provide optimal illumination in deep and narrow cavities. In addition, some surgeons may feel that lighted retractors may not have the necessary grip strength and feel that surgeons are familiar with because they are made of different materials such as plastic.
As Okoro et al mentions, there are three critical features of an operating light for providing optimal illumination:
(1) centering on the surgeon's immediate field,
(2) illuminating a wide or narrow field with high-intensity light, and
(3) penetrating a cavity or under a flap.3
Although modern day lighted retractors are able to achieve these features, there exists a few limitations that calls for the introduction of a better solution.
A better solution over the conventional lighted surgical retractor
The KLARO™ in vivo surgical lighting device has a long and bendable light strip that is highly adaptable for use in various deep and narrow surgical cavities. It can be used on its own or mounted directly onto many surgical retractors, transforming them into a lighted retractor while retaining the familiar feel and grip that a surgeon prefers.
Moreover, KLARO™ has a patented LED technology which ensures the light strip remains at a cool temperature below 38°C throughout its operation. Its compact battery pack also allows the whole device to be contained within the operating table, reducing the wires and equipment placed around the surgical team. In addition, KLARO™ provides wide-angled lighting within the surgical cavity like floodlights and allows for lighting to be directed centrally towards the surgeon’s field of vision. This enables surgeons to clearly illuminate deep and narrow surgical cavities which cannot be achieved with conventional lighted retractors.
As surgical cavities become smaller and narrower, having an in-cavity illumination source also eliminates the need for a surgical assistant or scrub nurse to hold onto an additional lighted retractor. With the introduction of the novel KLARO™ in vivo lighting device, it is time for surgeons and operating rooms to be equipped with a 21st century lighting solution that provides optimal illumination for safer and more effective surgeries.
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1. Hensman C, Hanna GB, Drew T et al. Total radiated power, infrared output, and heat generation by cold light sources at the distal end of endoscopes and fiber optic bundle of light cables. Surg Endosc. 1998;12(4):335-337.
2. Nizzero D, Deek R, Dean NR. Prevention of thermal injury from lighted retractors in breast surgery: a comparative study of optical cable calibre. AJOPS. 2022;5(1):39-42.
3. Okoro SA, Patel TH, Wang PT. Who needs the surgical headlight?. Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2007;44(2):126-128.