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ASC Blog

Potential risks of using retractor blades in cranial procedures

Potential risks of using retractor blades in cranial procedures

08/09/2017 - Salem, MA - How using a specialized neuro pattie can help reduce the potential for tissue damage resulting from retractor blades.

While retractors have evolved over time to help reduce the occurrence of injury, they still present risks to the neurosurgical patient.  Injuries from using retractor blades during surgery are caused from the pressure of the blade’s focal point on the brain.

10% of complications in skull base surgery are related to retraction. Complications include:

  • Parenchymal Hematomas
  • Aphasia
  • Hemiparesis
  • Numbness

What is the solution?  How can we make sure retractor blades are one less thing to worry about when it comes to injuries in the OR?   With so many different things going on, the OR staff, including the surgeon, have enough to worry about before, during, and after surgery and might not be aware of a simple solution, the Telfa® neuro pattie.  If you were to put a Telfa® pattie, which is a non-adhesive neuro pattie, behind the blades of the retractor this would help protect the tissue from the pressure of the blade, thereby helping to reduce the risk for potential damage of delicate tissue and nerves.  It is important to ensure that the tissue that encounters the retractor is protected always.  And, unlike standard Telfa® sheets, ASC’s modified Telfa® patties come x-ray detectible, strung, and in a variety of precut sizes eliminating the need to cut, helping to provide an accurate count of the number of patties used.   

As previously mentioned, retractions accounts for 10% of complications in skull base procedures.  Now, that may not seem like a lot considering all the other complications that make up the other 90%. However, if I were the patient undergoing surgery, I would want every effort to reduce the risk of damage, including reducing the risk of retractor related damage.  And so it is comforting to know that there is a product out there that can provide a layer of cushioning between the retractor blade and the delicate neural tissue thereby helping to mitigate the potential for complications arising from the use of a retractor.

For more information, please visit our Telfa® page.

Telfa® is a registered trademark of Covidien PLC.

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