Senn Retractor - Definition, Uses, Function, Types

What is the Senn Retractor?

During surgical procedures, a tissue can be gently held back or retracted with the help of a multipurpose surgical equipment known as a Senn retractor. Its double-ended form makes it ideal for hand, foot, and small bone and joint surgeries because it can maneuver surface tissues.

There are two ends to the retractor; one is usually L-shaped, while the other has three bent prongs. The tips of the prongs are dull and pointy. Retraction and mobility of tissue are made easier by the retractor's thin, curved, and flat blades. The sharp or blunt prongs are inserted between tissue layers and carefully manipulated to expose the area of interest.


Senn retractor is handheld, double-ended tool which is predominantly utilized to retract surface tissue during surgical procedures. Thyroidectomy, neck tissue dissection, hand and foot surgeries, plastic surgery, tiny bone and joint treatments, and skin, subcutaneous, and superficial muscle procedures employ it.

Senn Retractor - Definition, Uses, Function, Types


The Senn retractor design was initially documented in scholarly works by Dr. Nicholas Senn, who held the position of director of surgery at Rush Medical College. He was one of the first people to use Listerism, and he did his surgery in a fog of carbolic acid spray. Senn retractor was developed as a result of his belief that smooth surfaces on surgical instruments are crucial for preventing infection. The Senn retractor is still commonly used in surgeries on the hands and feet, as well as other procedures involving skin and soft tissue.

Uses & Function

A handheld, double-ended retractor, the Senn Retractor is used mostly for retracting surface tissue. Common applications include thyroidectomy and dissection of neck tissue, plastic surgery, and small bone and joint procedures. The blades of the retractor can be put between the layers of tissue, and then the retractor can be gently adjusted to generate the exposure that is required. One end of the retractor is blunt and angled, while the other bears a three-pronged rake tip. The prongs can either have a sharp or blunt end. 


Senn Retractor is a double-ended, portable instrument employed to expose incisions and surface tissues. The Senn Retractor is available in a variety of lengths and tip styles, including sharp and blunt. 

The Senn Retractor is composed of four prongs, three prongs, or one solid end that is 1/4" x 3/4" deep and 3/8" wide. The Senn Retractor has a length range of 6-1/4" to 16 cm. Many medical instrument suppliers sell the reusable Senn Retractor.


The Senn Retractor improves surgical site visualization and reduces tissue trauma at the same time. Its ergonomic design and expertly manufactured blades make surgery easier for surgeons and patients.

Senn Retractor - Definition, Uses, Function, Types Senn Retractor - Definition, Uses, Function, Types Reviewed by Simon Albert on November 15, 2023 Rating: 5
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