The history of brain retractors throughout the development of neurological surgery

Rachid Assina, Sebastian Rubino, Christina E. Sarris, Chirag D. Gandhi, Charles J. Prestigiacomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Early neurosurgical procedures dealt mainly with treatment of head trauma, especially skull fractures. Since the early medical writings by Hippocrates, a great deal of respect was given to the dura mater, and many other surgeons warned against violating the dura. It was not until the 19th century that neurosurgeons started venturing beneath the dura, deep into the brain parenchyma. With this advancement, brain retraction became an essential component of intracranial surgery. Over the years brain retractors have been created pragmatically to provide better visualization, increased articulations and degrees of freedom, greater stability, less brain retraction injury, and less user effort. Brain retractors have evolved from simple handheld retractors to intricate brain-retraction systems with hand-rest stabilizers. This paper will focus on the history of brain retractors, the different types of retractors, and the progression from one form to another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E8
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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