We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Richardson Retractor?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A Richardson retractor is a handheld medical instrument used during chest or abdominal surgery. Such retractors feature a handle and a long shaft with a wide hook, known as a blade, at the end. Surgeons use the blade to grasp soft tissue such as skin, muscle, or internal organs. Once the soft tissue is secured, the surgeon pulls and holds the handle to keep soft tissues back and away from the surgical area.

Different surgeries and different patients require specially designed surgical tools. As such, retractors come in a variety of sizes, widths, and blade styles. For deep surgeries in a human torso, a Deaver retractor or Richardson retractor allows a surgeon to shift one side of an incision, including necessary muscles and organs, to access the surgical area. Hooks or blades for such surgeries typically need to be wider, with larger curves than retractors designed for more shallow surgical areas, to better reach deeper into the abdominal cavity.

The size and width of a Richardson retractor directly relates to the size of the patient and the surgery to be performed. For example, pediatric abdominal surgery requires much smaller instruments than adult abdominal surgery. Likewise, veterinary surgeries often require shorter handles and smaller blades to accommodate different internal organ configurations. Dentists also use a variation of a Richardson retractor — although understandably smaller in scale — for use in dental surgeries.

Retractors such as a Richardson retractor should not be confused with thoracic retractors such as rib spreaders. Rib spreaders operate as distractors, prying and forcing bone or tissue out of the way. Comparatively, a Richardson retractor is a true retractor in that its intended purpose is to gently lift and hold tissues in place, away from areas exposed for surgical repair or removal. Beyond holding back tissues, the use of the various types of retractors is as much a matter of preference for the surgeon as it is a matter of surgery type and patient size.

The original design of a Richardson retractor called for a single blade end. A modified design, called the Richardson-Eastman retractor, features blades at either end, with a handle in the middle. In surgeries requiring the separation of an incision with tissues moved to either side of the surgical area, a Richardson-Eastman retractor provides such abilities. Richardson-Eastman retractors, unlike the original, are typically sold in sets of two or more, rather than one. The range of sizes available with Richardson-Eastman retractors also varies depending on the specific surgical region and the size of the patient.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.