Access to deep-seated brain lesions (e.g., tumors, aneurysms, hematomas, and other malformations) is challenging due to the potential for retraction-induced injury. Traditionally, neurosurgeons use dissection and blade retractors to push apart tissue to visualize and operate on target lesions. These blades apply focal pressure onto the brain, resulting in ischemia, edema, and parenchymal trauma, leading to complications in up to 29% of cases. Tubular retractors were introduced to distribute forces radially and have led to improved safety and clinical outcomes. However, reports indicate that tubular retractors still led to complications in up to 9.1% of cases. Other concerns include significant pressure in the direction of insertion and the displacement of anatomic landmarks leading to inaccurate stereotaxis.
We present a novel, minimally-invasive brain retractor that utilizes an expandable soft balloon to further reduce retraction-induced injury and increase stereotactic accuracy with a minimal port of entry. The device consists of a balloon catheter system, a clear sheath, and integration with neuronavigation stylets. This approach can reduce the rate of iatrogenic injury and improve clinical outcomes for brain lesion operations. Furthermore, we illustrate the efficacy of this device in use compared to those of conventional tubular and blade retractors in a pig cadaver.