A Complete Guide to the Hohmann Retractor

23 March 2023

Named after German orthopaedic surgeon Georg Hohmann, the Hohmann retractor is a common sight in theatres around the globe. Like other ground-breaking surgical instruments used throughout history, the beauty of this surgery instrument is in its apparent simplicity; a perfect combination of elegance and effectiveness.

But such tools always seem uncomplicated, perhaps even obvious, after they’ve been created – the innovative thinking behind the original idea is lost as the solution becomes commonplace.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Hohmann retractor: its history, its use, and what a surgeon might look for in a good one.

What is the history of the Hohmann retractor?

Born in Germany in 1880, Georg Hohmann would spend his 90 years living through tumultuous times on earth. As an orthopaedic surgeon, he found himself on the front lines of two world wars, both of which his home country lost. But these harrowing experiences would gift orthopaedics with one of its most important tools: the Hohmann retractor.

The man who invented the Hohmann Retractor

image credit: Semantic Scholar

Georg Walther Hohmann, a German orthopedic surgeon - is widely credited with the invention of the Hohmann retractor (AKA bone lever). He first described the Hohmann Retractor in an article published in 1906. The retractor was designed for tissue retraction, particularly those around the edges of wounds, granting better access to the surgical site. (Takkellapati et al., 2014).

Working through World Wars I and II, and not short of patients, Hohmann refined his design throughout his life. The evolution has continued after his passing, with a number of orthopedic surgical instrument manufacturers, such as Enztec, creating their own enhanced and modified Hohmann retractors to make it ever more safe, intuitive and effective.

What is the Hohmann retractor used for?

The Hohmann retractor is a single-ended, handheld instrument made of stainless steel. It features a curved, flat blade with a rounded tip useful for retracting tissues and organs gently. The handle is ergonomically designed to provide a comfortable grip and precise control during surgery.

When do surgeons use the Hohmann retractor as a surgical instrument?

Hohmann retractors, a crucial orthopedic instrument, are designed to minimise tissue damage in surgery, and are widely used in minimally invasive hip and knee surgeries, where they retract the tissues around the margins of the joint.

In knee arthroplasties, a Hohmann retractor helps provide surgeons with a clear line of sight by passing over the margins of the joint and being held in place either with weights or by hand. In hip arthroplasties, the tool is commonly used to retract tissue along the anterior and posterior acetabular brim, thereby exposing the bony prominence for better access during surgery.

Modern Hohmann retractors are lightweight and come in a wealth of different designs, with round, square or leaf-shaped tip, finger rings, and in any number of different sizes and selections.

Types of Modern Hohmann Retractors

This ensures that no matter the procedure, the size of the wound/incision or the needs of the patient, there will be a Hohmann retractor to suit, minimising damage to delicate tissues and increasing the chances of surgery success.

The next question: what should a surgeon, or indeed any surgical instrument brand, look for in a high quality Hohmann retractor?

Why choose Enztec for your Hohmann retractors?

A high-quality Hohmann retractor will be specially designed with both the patient and the surgeon in mind. It will feel good in the hand and will make the process of retraction feel intuitive and organic. Most important of all, it will minimise the potential for tissue damage during surgery, no matter the factors at play, and will give the surgeon the greatest possible chance of completing the surgery successfully.

Enztec Hohmann retractors tick all these boxes and more. We offer three Hohmann retractor variants: standard, narrow and long. Softened edges and curved handle profiles provide the surgeon with a secure and comfortable grip, skilfully crafted tip profiles ensure the bone is engaged correctly the first time, and contoured blades guard against soft tissue damage.

The Enztec difference extends beyond our Hohmann retractors. We’re a company that sits at the very leading edge of orthopaedic innovation, that offers its partners, from tier-one device companies to new market entrants, access to the knowledge, experience and resources they need.

At Enztec our passionate team is always at our partners’ beck and call, keeping them in the loop at every stage of the process. As the legal manufacturer of the instrumentation, we allow our partners to eliminate compliance complexity by taking charge of all product development and regulatory responsibilities.

Most of all, we design and manufacture instrumentation that feels right, looks stunning and works flawlessly. Enztec tools, Hohmann retractors or otherwise, simply feel right.

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