Cervical pedicle screw placement using the "key Slot Technique": The feasibility and learning curve

Sang Hun Lee, Ki Tack Kim, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Kyung Soo Suk, Jung Hee Lee, Kyung Jun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN:: A retrospective study. OBJECTIVES:: To present the accuracy and safety of a novel "key slot (KS)" technique for cervical pedicle screw (CPS) placement with the learning curve. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:: Safety and learning curve are the issues preventing wide acceptance of CPS. On the basis of the local anatomy of the pedicle, the authors modified the conventional technique to increase the accuracy and comfortableness of CPS placement with minimal bone loss. METHODS:: A total of 277 subaxial CPS in 50 patients had been inserted using author's technique were reviewed. The KS-shaped entry was created on the medial half of the lateral mass with a 3 mm cutting burr. The shape of entry was a right-angled triangle on the axial plane. The apex of triangle was the virtual pedicle inlet and the oblique side was same as pedicle axis. After making entry, the pedicle was probed with a curved awl along the medial wall. On the postoperative vascular-enhanced computed tomography scan, we analyzed the direction and grade of pedicle perforation (grade 0: no perforation, 1:<25%, 2: 20% to 50%, 3: >50% of screw diameter) on the chronological group of consecutive 10 cases. Grade 2 and 3 were considered as incorrect position. RESULTS:: The correct position was found in 250 screws (90.3%); grade 0 - 215 screws, 1 - 35 screws and the incorrect position in 27 screws (9.7%); grade 2 - 21 screws, grade 3 - 6 screws. The incidence of incorrect screw position was 18% in the initial 20 cases and 2.7% after that. There was no neurovascular complication related with CPS. CONCLUSIONS:: We performed CPS placement using the KS technique and with 90% correct position without clinical complications. After the learning curve, the incidence was 2.7%. This technique could be considered relatively concrete and safe modification of conventional technique with minimal bone loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-421
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cervical pedicle screw
  • key slot technique
  • learning curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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