The operating room is filled with many different pieces of equipment, all of which remain essential to the safe completion of any surgical procedure. Read more about five of the most vital tools of the trade for any surgeon, below. 

The Retractor

The purpose of a surgical retractor is to separate the edges of an incision, and ensure that tissues and organs do not encroach upon the surgeon’s instruments as they work. They are utilised in a wide range of surgeries.

An improvement on the Lone Star retractor enables self-retention and single-handed adjustments, thus freeing up the surgeon’s hands and enabling heightened control over the operating field. What’s more, if the surgeon is able to make adjustments with ease and find better visibility on their own, fewer people will be required within the operating room, thus minimising the risk posed to the sterile field. 

Surgical Lights

Few tasks can be performed better in dim lighting – aside from, perhaps, processing photographic film or taking astronomical readings – and there are few areas that place more demand on the eyes than surgery. 

Operating within the body, even when the incision is significant, entails plenty of shadows or areas where an extraordinarily high degree of intricacy is required. As such, surgical lights must offer unfailing assistance to the surgeon, in order to make certain that they are able to see the entire procedure clearly from start to finish. 

Not only do they need to cast a uniform level of light over the area, but they also need to avoid creating shadows beneath the surgeon’s hands as they work, and ensure a high degree of accuracy for colour rendition. 


Any incision must be made with the highest degree of precision possible, which means that the scalpel remains one of the surgeon’s most indispensable tools. 

Whether they are reusable or single-use, the scalpel is kept incredibly sharp in order to ensure that only a single, straight cut is necessary.


The use of anaesthesia only began back in the mid-nineteenth century. Until then, alcohol and herbal tinctures were utilised – though the effects were poor, and many suffered through agonising experiences on the surgeon’s table. 

Administering a general anaesthetic is complex and, at times, risky, but more often than not it simply enables the surgeon to conduct the operation without causing any pain, discomfort, stress or tension within the patient, and enabling greater control over their breathing and circulation. 


The only successful surgeries are those that have been performed within as sterile a field as the situation allows, which means that gloves offer one of the most essential barriers between anyone working within the operating room, and the patient. 

The use of gloves was not adopted until the very tail end of the nineteenth century, and, upon their introduction, it became immediately clear quite how effective they were at preventing post-operative infections in patients. Even if the surgeon does everything else by the book, the patient would face a significant and potentially deadly risk if sterile latex, nitrile or PVC gloves were not used throughout the procedure.