In situ adjustable surgical retractor for applications in spine and brain surgery

Value Proposition

Access to injury site is critical for all surgical interventions – one must be able to physically manipulate the human body to correct abnormalities while minimizing damage to the healthy tissue. This ideal is most important to procedures that seek to heal sensitive tissues in our brain and spinal column. However, currently tissue retracting technology for the spine and brain either incorporates hard edge implements that cause tissue damage or fixed port insertable devices that often need replacement in the middle of the surgery due to changing geometric conditions – also causing tissue damage upon removal. The unique nature of each patient and each surgical intervention requires that highly specialized, often disposable devices have been made, increasing the overall cost of the procedure without addressing patient outcomes. Therefore, development of a device that reduces tissue damage upon insertion and can be adjusted in situ has the potential to unilaterally improve patient outcomes for a variety of neurological procedures.


This invention is a tubular retractor with modular extensions that allows for angularity and in situ control over the penetrative depth during a surgical procedure

Other Applications

Sub cortical brain tumor resection, various spinal column procedures (i.e. discectomy, spinal fusion), Intracranial hematoma evacuations.


In situ modularity overcomes error in depth decisions caused by variance in skin and muscle thickness. Tubular design enables extremely small incisions and reduces hard pressure points on the surrounding tissue, limiting damage and reducing recovery time.

Duke File (IDF) Number



  • Carroll, Kathleen "Katie"
  • Gonzalez, Luis "L. Fernando"
  • Haddad, Anthony-Fayez "Anthony-Fayez"
  • McVey, Aimee "Aimee"

For more information please contact


School of Medicine (SOM)