The most difficult part of minimally invasive surgery is the decreased size of the surgical site in which the surgeon has to perform the procedure safely. Since the surgical site is reduced, exposure becomes a difficult part of these procedures. Visualization of tissue layers and structures within the incision are paramount to a safe and efficient outcome.
A high quality retractor system designed for use in minimally invasive surgeries should maximize the visual field. The retractor system should also be designed to be unobtrusive to the surgeon and at the same time maximize the space the surgeon can manipulate, grasp, hold and clamp tissues and objects within the site. A retractor system that holds tissues open at a few points along the blade is adequate, but such a system lets tissues around the retractor blades collapse into the surgical site, decreasing the visual field as well as the area in which the surgeon can maneuver.
The final important aspect in designing and developing a good retractor system for minimally invasive procedures is stability of the retractor system. Tissues are constantly creating force against the retractor system while surgeons are maneuvering the tissue within the surgical site. This creates the possibility of the retractor system shifting or slipping out of the surgical site. Stability becomes important to maintain an efficient surgical site for surgeons so we don’t have to waste time readjusting the retractor system during the procedure.