Gaining access to a surgical site via retracting neighboring tissue can result in complications due to occlusion of the tissue blood supply resulting in ischemic damage. By incorporating oxygenation sensors on the working surfaces of surgical retractors and graspers, it is possible to measure the local tissue oxygen saturation and look for trends in real-time. Further, by measuring tissue interaction forces simultaneously, we can further augment the information available to the surgeon. The sensors provide a means for sensory substitution to help compensate for the decreased sensation present in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic procedures that are gaining significant popularity. Sensing surgical instruments will allow for safer and more effective surgeries while not interfering with the normal workflow of a procedure.