What Is a Bookwalter Retractor™?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2018
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A Bookwalter Retractor™ is a type of surgical instrument made by Codman & Shurtleff, Inc. It is sold with a collection of other medical tools labeled the Bookwalter Retractor Kit, used for holding open a surgical incision to expose the part of the body being operated on. As of March 2011, the Bookwalter Retractor Kit is in its second generation of production.

A retractor in the field of medicine is defined as a tool that surgeons use to separate or hold back the ends of a surgical incision, with the abdomen or chest being the most common sites. This is done so that they can gain much better access to the area of the body they intend to operate on. Retractors are generally manufactured as hand-held steel tools, with one end serving as the spreader and the other end being the handle. A few retractors have been made for application to a robotic arm for operation.

The Bookwalter Retractor™ follows the conventional method of manufacture in that it is made of steel. It is therefore similar to retractors such as the Deaver retractor and the Richardson retractor. The former is designed as a curved blade, while the latter has an L-shaped blade and bulky handle.


Senn retractors are also made of steel, and they are similar to the Richardson retractor in that they also possess an L shape. Notably, though, the Bookwalter Retractor™—along with the Deaver and Richardson versions—is a single-ended tool, while the Senn retractor is a double-ended one. Moreover, the Senn retractor is used for hand and foot surgeries, unlike tools like the Bookwalter Retractor™, which is used for abdominal and chest operations.

The Bookwalter Retractor Kit II, which comprises 18 components, actually offers four Bookwalter Retractor™ blades for widening the surgical incisions. They vary in size according to the thickness or toughness of the organs or tissue that need to be pushed aside. The sizes include 2 by 3 inches (51 by 76 mm), 2 by 4 inches (51 mm by 10.1 cm), 2 by 5 inches (51 mm by 12.7 cm), and 2 by 6 inches (51 mm by 15.2 cm). The Bookwalter Retractor™ blades are used in a variety of surgical procedures. This includes cholecystectomy, which involves gallbladder removal; appendectomy, or removal of the appendix; and hernia repair, which concerns getting rid of abnormal bulges in the abdomen.


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