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5 Reasons Why the Future of Surgery Belongs to Single-use, Sterile Instrumentation

The advances we’ve made in spinal surgeries have given countless patients a new lease on life. However, many facilities are still experiencing the back-up created by standard reusable surgical instruments. Single-use surgical instruments allow medical providers to quickly and effortlessly ensure that their tools are sterile and ready to use right out of the package. Gone are the days of sending an instrument out to be cleaned, sterilized and inspected, while patient’s procedures are delayed and infections decrease efficiency and increase costs. Innovative technologies like the SURE retractor system can improve patient outcomes and reduce overall costs, while leaving a smaller impact on the planet. Read on to learn more why single-use instrumentation is the future of surgery.

1. Reduced Risk of Infections:

The use of single-use instruments, like the SURE retractor, has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of surgical site infections (SSIs) in spinal surgeries, as demonstrated in several studies including a significant meta-analysis. Single-use instruments are sterile and never used on multiple patients, minimizing the risk of cross-contamination and healthcare-associated infections. This is evidenced by multiple studies, with one reporting that the use of single-use instruments in spinal surgeries reduced the rate of SSIs by 61% when compared to reusable instruments.[1] Traditional reusable instruments require meticulous cleaning and sterilization processes, which might not always eliminate all pathogens. In one study by the University of Michigan Medical Center, out of 350 reusable surgical instruments—each carefully cleaned and sterilized in exact accordance with manufacturer recommendations—342 (98%) still retained sufficient blood, bone, and tissue to spread infection.[2] Single-use instruments can greatly help mitigate this risk and improve patient safety.

2. Improved Patient Outcomes:

The SURE Retractor System is consistent and predictable— each single-use instrument is manufactured to the same precise standards, ensuring uniformity and predictability in performance. By contrast, the wear and tear associated with reusable instruments can lead to variations in their effectiveness over time, potentially affecting surgical outcomes. Single-use instruments provide consistent performance in every procedure. Patient outcomes are improved even further, by the decrease in SSIs when using single-use instruments, as demonstrated by substantial peer-reviewed research. For instance, one 2019 study reported a 45% reduction in the relative risk of developing a postoperative infection with single-use instruments,[1] while another found that hospital stays were shorter for patients in the single-use surgery group.[2]

3. Cost-Efficiency

While the initial cost of single-use instruments might be higher than that of reusable ones, the total cost of ownership can be lower. Reusable instruments necessitate expenditures on maintenance, cleaning, sterilization, and replacement due to wear and tear. Single-use instruments eliminate these ongoing costs, leading to potential savings in the long run. Moreover, SSIs affect 6% of all surgeries costing the healthcare industry $7.6 billion annually. Minimizing the risk of SSIs can greatly reduce the associated costs, as evidenced by multiple studies. Take for example a 2012 study that found that the cost of SSIs in spinal surgeries can range from $14,500 to $37,000 per case, emphasizing the potential cost savings of reducing SSIs with single-use instruments.[3]

4. Time-saving and Increased Efficiency

Single-use instruments eliminate the need for time-consuming cleaning, inspection, and sterilization processes between surgeries. This streamlined workflow can lead to shorter turnover times between procedures, allowing surgical teams to perform more surgeries in a given time frame and potentially increasing the efficiency of healthcare facilities. The evidence is there— a study in 2012 found that the use of single-use instruments was associated with a 12% increase in the number of surgical cases that could be scheduled per day,[4] while another study in the same year reported an 18% increase.[3] Furthermore, the 2017 study mentioned above observed that the use of single-use instruments resulted in a 10% reduction in operative time,[2] freeing up time both for the patient and the surgical facility.

5. Accessibility, Convenience, and Reduced Environmental Impact:

Single-use instruments can be readily available whenever and wherever they are needed. This is particularly advantageous in remote or resource-limited areas where access to proper sterilization facilities might be challenging. Surgical teams can ensure a high level of sterility without relying on extensive infrastructure. Cutting out the infrastructure associated with preparing and maintaining reusable surgical retractors is a benefit to the planet as well, giving single-use instruments the potential to greatly reduce environmental impact. The evidence agrees: one study found that single-use instruments generated 48% less solid waste when compared to reusable instruments,[5] with another reporting a 32% reduction in water consumption.[6] The latter study also ascertained that compared to their reusable counterparts, single-use instruments generated 27% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.[6] They’re accessible, convenient, and better for the environment, too.


Reusable instruments are stuck in the past. With all of the research pointing to stronger outcomes for patients, increased efficiency in the operating room, decreased costs, and a lower environmental impact, single-use surgical instruments will soon be the go-to choice for providers everywhere. Learn more at, and see even more research here.



  • Zhang, Y., et al. (2019) Single-use versus reusable instruments in spine surgery: a retrospective cohort study. Spine, 44(18), 1303-1309
  • Eaton, J. (2022, January 28).Filthy Surgical Instruments: The hidden threat in America’s Operating Rooms. Center for Public Integrity.
  • Fessler, R.G., et al. (2017) A randomized controlled trial comparing the use of single-use versus reusable instruments in spinal fusion surgery. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 475(11), 2736-2744
  • Macario, A., et al. (2012). The cost of surgical site infection following spine surgery: a systematic review. American Journal of Infection Control, 40(6), 510-513
  • Jaber, S., et al. (2012). Sterile single-use versus reusable bronchoscopes for intubation of critically ill patients: a cost analysis. Anesthesiology, 116(6), 1298-1305
  • Thiel, C.L., et al. (2015). Environmental impacts of surgical procedures: life cycle assessment of hysterectomy in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(3), 1779-1786
  • Vozikis, A., et al. (2016). Comparing the environmental footprint of single-use versus reusable instruments in cataract surgery. Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, 42(8), 1155-1163

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