• VSON

Dr. Braxton Performs First Awake Spine Surgery In Vail

Minimally-invasive procedure offers faster recovery, less pain




Dr. Ernest Braxton, a Neurosurgeon at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery, introduced a first-of-it's-kind-in-Vail procedure at Vail Health in Vail, Colorado, completing a successful awake spine surgery.


The surgery, a transformainal lumbar interbody fusion, took approximately 2 hours, during which the patient was awake, alert, comfortable, and able to watch video on an iPad.


"I'm excited to introduce this new minimally-invasive surgery to the Vail Valley," said Dr. Braxton. "I'm optimistic that this will be the first of many."


During an awake surgery, the patient is treated with localized pain solutions, avoiding the need for general anesthesia and after-surgery pain narcotics.


"The awake surgery allows me to examine my patients in real time during the procedure, and it eliminates the need to use intravenous narcotics," said Dr. Braxton. This technique should lead to quicker recovery times and offer several additional benefits to the patient."


Added Benefits to Being Awake


Dr. Braxton is a Neurosurgeon and an expert in minimally-invasive spine surgery



"I want my patients to be out there being active sooner, instead of spending 3-4 days in the hospital. I think those are the types of results that our active population here in Vail and Summit County are looking for."

According to Dr. Braxton, who is an expert in minimally-invasive spine surgery, awake surgery eliminates the problems presented by traditional methods. "Traditionally, this surgery is done with general anesthesia because the surgery itself can be quite painful. However, by eliminating the need for anesthesia, we eliminate those risks, which is especially pertinent here at higher altitudes."


The awake surgery also offers the following benefits for the patient:

  • The surgeon can monitor the patient neurologically throughout the procedure.

  • The procedure eliminates the need for costly intra-operative neurological monitoring.

  • The awake patient can help the surgeon to locate pathology.

  • There is less risk of the patient undergoing neuropraxia (nerve injury) from positioning during surgery.

  • There are less risks of complications from anesthesia, especially at altitude.


No Narcotics, Quicker Recovery


Dr. Braxton also stressed that the awake surgery allows the patient to get back to doing what they love quicker and more effectively.


"My goal is to help people recover faster after surgery by using minimally-invasive techniques," he said. "I want my patients to be out there being active sooner, instead of spending 3-4 days in the hospital. I think those are the types of results that our active population here in Vail and Summit County are looking for, and I am going to continue to bring new techniques to the Valley that will help our patients achieve their goals."


To learn more about Dr. Ernest Braxton, visit braxtonmd.com