The articular surface technique for lumbar pedicle screw placement: a 3D feasibility study

Gautham Prabhakar, Trevor Wait, Aaron Kolar, Yolanda Maldonado, Christopher Chaput

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Traditional pedicle screws (TPSs) and cortical based trajectory pedicle screws each apply stability with fusions of the lumbar spine and have shown good success. However, the technical considerations of each technique imply complications of loosening and failure that either technique is uniquely prone to having. The current study proposes a new pedicle screw technique through the articular surface of the vertebral superior facet. It is hypothesized that this path will allow utilization of a larger screw that rivals that of the TPS technique, while also maintaining the high-density bone encountered in the cortical based trajectory technique. Methods: Retrospective review of 50 consecutive trauma patients that underwent lumbar computed tomography (CT) scans at a Level 1 Trauma Center in the age range 18–45. These scans were uploaded to Brainlab software for ideal starting point and trajectory mapping of pedicle screws coursing through each superior facet and pedicle of vertebral levels L1–S1 without cortical breach. Satisfactory pedicle screw variables consisted of a medial angle <10 degrees, screw length at least 30 mm, screw width at least 5.0 mm, and starting point measurements such as distance to the inferior articular surface and distance to the lateral articular surface. Results: A total of 600 virtual pedicle screws were placed, in which 525 were satisfactory and measured with the above variables. The pedicle widths were shown to significantly widen with lower-level vertebra in the lumbar spine. Approximately 72% of unsuccessful pedicle screws were placed in levels L1 and L2 allowing wider pedicle screws to be placed more further down the vertebral column. Conclusions: The articular surface technique (AST) for pedicle screw placement is a viable alternative in lumbar spinal fusions that offers decreased soft tissue dissection. However, the technique is likely better suited for lower lumbar fusions in L3 to S1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-443
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Spine Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 25 2023


  • Fusion
  • cortical
  • pedicle
  • screw
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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