In the Russian classification of medical instruments, some instruments are grouped under the title "medical instruments for moving aside":

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The description says:

"Instruments whose working surfaces are paddle- or jaw-shaped and are connected by hinges, screws, or springs, and which serve the purpose of widening the wounds, cavities and passages in order to move aside those organs that are not intended for surgery, so as to protect those organs from accidental damage."

I think this "medical instruments for moving aside" is a very poor translation. What would be the natural-sounding English alternative? I tried googling but found nothing.

Displacing instruments?

I'm proofreading a text in which there's a table with a short description of the types of surgical instruments, and this particular type is indicated by the single word pushing. I'm not sure that an English speaker will understand which group of instruments this pushing might describe.

  • 1
    I don't think it's such a bad translation.
    – Carey Gregory
    Feb 29, 2020 at 5:22
  • 1
    @CareyGregory - then I must have been over-cautious Feb 29, 2020 at 6:03
  • 1
    @CopperKettle, you seem to be right. Those instruments do not push things away, but they keep the things apart.
    – Jan
    Mar 2, 2020 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


A "retractor" is a category of instruments used for that purpose, perhaps "retracting instruments" or "retracting and exposing instruments" would work - I see both terms in use.

In my own experience, which is limited to rodent surgeries, we don't differentiate between pushing and pulling versions.

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