To avoid traditional muscle dissection required in the placement of a screw for a pedicle screw fixation, a retractor is provided having a guide of an appropriate length to provide access from the skin surface to the dorsal aspect of the vertebra over the pedicle. The retractor has a handle to provide appropriate holding leverage and to maintain the guide so as to stabilize the guide against the lateral aspects of the facet with the paraspinous musculature. The retractor has a channel of an appropriate size to accommodate a variety of tools, including a drill bit or a tap. The channel also provides a pathway for a probe or feeler to inspect the placement of the screw. A tool groove may be provided in the channel to support the shaft of a tool, such as a tap.