Ernest Braxton, MD, MBA

Dr. Ernest Braxton is a Board Certified neurosurgeon specializing in neurotrauma, and complex and minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery and artificial disc technology. He is passionate about minimally invasive spine surgery because patients return to performance faster. He is an expert with motion preservation technology such as artificial disc surgery and has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Braxton is an Afghan war veteran with extensive experience caring for complex combat injuries during Operation Enduring Freedom.

ADVANCED Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery

Dr. Braxton is a Board Certified neurosurgeon specializing in brain tumors, neurotrauma, and complex and minimally invasive spine surgery. He first fell in love with the Rocky Mountains while studying at the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He completed medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and residency at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. While in Pittsburgh, he earned his MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (MBA) and rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ for his accomplishments in the field of entrepreneurship. Dr Braxton currently serves as a consultant to several leading medical device companies in the field of surgeon education and technology innovation.

Before joining Vail Summit Orthopedics he was the Chief of Neurosurgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC). SAMMC is the Department of Defense’s largest medical treatment facility and has the highest acuity and volume of any hospital in our military health system. During his military service he was the Theater Neurosurgeon In Charge while deployed in Afghanistan where he contributed to the 96% survivability rate for incoming wounded. While working in a combat zone he acquired extensive experience with blast and traumatic brain injuries, as well as complex spinal fractures resulting from high-energy improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Dr. Braxton is passionate about minimally invasive spine surgery because patients return to performance faster. He is a team physician for both the US Ski and Snowboard Team and the USA Nordic Team. Dr Braxton has an interest in clinical research and has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications. When out of the OR, he is a champion for the prevention and management of brain injury and concussion.

During his free time, Dr. Braxton enjoys spending time with friends and family, and outdoor activities, including skiing and biking.


  • BS, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • MD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Internship, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland AFB, Texas
  • Residency in Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • MBA, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Chief Resident in Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Professional Societies​

  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)Resident, 2002-2009 Active Military Provisional,
  • 2010 Fellow AANS
  • 2016 AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves
  • 2002- Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Abstract Reviewer CNS Section of Neurotrauma and Critical Care 2018
  • 2012 North American Spine Society (NASS)

Honors and Awards

  • National Defense Service Medal with 1 Service Star
  • AF Training Ribbon
  • AF Outstanding Unit Award with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • United States Air Force Commendation Medal
  • Korean Defense Service Medal
  • Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal
  • Canfield-Roseman Entrepreneur of the year award
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 2 Service Stars
  • Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border
  • NATO Medal
  • AF Organizational Excellence Award
  • AF Longevity Service with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters

Articles and Publications​

  • Braxton EE Jr, Ehrlich GD, Hall-Stoodley L, Stoodley P, Veeh R, Fux C, Hu FZ, Quigley M, Post JC: Role of biofilms in neurosurgical device-related infections. Neurosurg Rev 2005;4:249-55.

  • O’Neill BR, Velez DA, Braxton EE, Whiting D, Oh MY. A survey of ventriculostomy and intracranial pressure monitor placement practices. Surg Neurol. 2008;70:268-73

  • Stoodley P, Braxton EE, Nistico L, Hall-Stoodley L, Johnson S, Quigley M, Post JC, Ehrlich GD, Kathju S, Direct demonstration of a Staphylococcus biofilm in an external ventricular drain in a patient with a history of recurrent ventriculoperitoneal shunt failure. Surg Neurol. 2010: 46; 127-32

  • Miranda LB, Braxton EE, Hobbs J, Quigley MR., Chronic subdural hematoma in the elderly: not a benign disease. J Neurosurg. 2010 Sep 24.

  • Willson, T. J., Grady, C., Braxton, E., & Weitzel, E. . Air Travel with Known Pneumocephalus Following Outpatient Sinus Surgery. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 2014 85(1), 75-77.

  • Volner, KD, Lawson, BK, Braxton, EE,, Anderson, ER., Improvised interbody fusion cage in an austere medical environment. Spine J. 2015 Apr 1;15(4):785-7.

  • Lin RP Weitzel EK, Chen PG, McMains KC1, Chang DR, Braxton EE, Majors J, Bunegin L.

  • Failure pressures after repairs of 2-cm × 2.5-cm rhinologic dural defects in a porcine ex vivo model. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2016 Jun 9. [Epub ]

  • Daya SK, Paulus AO, Braxton EE Jr, Vroman PJ, Mathis DA, Lin R, True MW.

  • Delayed Diagnosis of TSH-Secreting Adenoma Attributed to Worsening Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in a Military Veteran Because of Provider Anchoring Bias. Mil Med. 2017 Mar;182(3):e1849-e1853. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-16-00241.


  • Head Injury. Presented at Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute: Emergency War Surgery Course; San Antonio Texas, 8 December 2009.

  • Complex Thoracolumbar Spinal Reconstruction. Presented at Spine Science and Art Study Group: Winter Session, Park City, Utah, 9 March 2013

  • Penetrating Head Injuries and Reconstruction. Presented at Third Annual Heart of Texas Trauma Topics, Trauma Symposium, Waco, Texas 30 July 2013

  • Neurosurgical Support of the Global War on Terror, Texas Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting, San Antonio Texas, 1 March 2014

  • Starting Complex Spine Program in an ASC, Becker’s 16th Annual Future of Spine Conference, 14 June 2018

Ernest Braxton, MD, MBA Reviews

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Ernest Braxton, MD
Average rating:  
 29 reviews
 by Pete Lipson
Great Success with Dr Braxton two level disc arthroplasty

May 27 2022 Dr Braxton performed a disc arthroplasty on my spine, 2 level c4-c5, c5-c6. I feel much better and my shooting pain, aching in my trapezoids, front of neck, rear neck upper spine area are mostly gone. I do want to mention that i attribute much of the success also is due to i am very diligent about exercising daily and stretching, using a theraband daily for my neck. If i was not as diligent about daily upper spine specific stretching, exercises, i do not think i would be doing as well. Overall i am very happy i did the surgery and very happy i did not fuse. I am 44 y.o. and have an 11 y.o. that is way into sports and playing basketball and baseball with him is important to me, from what i read about fusion, doing these sports is not as enjoyable after fusion. Glad i did the disc replacement. Prior to surgery i had some burning, aching, shooting pain at times, that is all gone post surgery, i never had issues swallowing, not even the day after surgery. I am still learning about being self-aware and paying attention to when the tightness in my upper spine, neck is approaching pain, as soon as that occurs, i take 10-30 minutes to stretch, theraband, foam roll and the tightness is totally gone. This same activity prior to surgery was only about 20-30% as effective as it is now. Again, very happy i did the surgery, thank you Dr Braxton and thank you Vail Summit team!

 by Judy Campton
Pain free!

After many years of having back issues, it finally came to the point of seeking medical advice from a spine surgeon. Coming highly recommended, my first choice was Dr. Ernest Braxton at Vail Summit Orthopaedics. I was having extreme nerve pain, constantly a nine/ten level, from the base of my spine down my legs. An MRI revealed scoliosis and spinal stenosis, along with arthritis. A spinal laminectomy was scheduled for January 20, 2022, and Dr. Braxton said the pain would be gone as soon as the procedure was complete. I am happy to say I have had no pain since my surgery. Dr. Braxton is brilliant, and I recommend him and his highly qualified staff to anyone who has back or neck issues.

 by Lucia Barnes
The BEST of the best!

Dr. Braxton and his team are my heroes. I had an appointment with Dr.B. for excruciating left groin pain with numbness and weakness in my left leg.. After looking at spinal x-rays and MRIs it was determined that an OLIF procedure was for me which is a L3/4 fusion done with minimally invasive surgery which is his specialty. May 20,2021 he did it. 11 hours post surgery I stood up to get into a wheel chair for an x-ray. No more groin pain!! The strength in my left leg was improved.For the next two days I got choked up when people asked me how I was. Nerve pain is the worst pain of the worst! It was gone. His whole team took great interest in me. Dr. Braxton works with Dr. Cheave who begins the surgery by making the pathway for Dr.B to do his work/Magic. All surgeons should work with him. Small incision, very little post op trauma.
Dr. B. has a great sense of humor. His surgical explanations are detailed, all questions answered. You do not feel rushed in this Dr's presence.
I recommend Dr.Braxton and his Team for anyone who is having neuro-spinal problems. It is worth coming to Vail. Vail's beauty in it's self is healing. Thank you to Dr. B and his Team for all the hard work and dedication that you give to your practice.

 by Rob Johnson

"I arrived in Vail, CO for a scheduled Total Hip Replacement Surgery at a renowned Orthopedic Clinic in Vail. I had also been evaluated by a Spine surgeon there revealing a significant spine deformity, multiple curves, and compression scoliosis. This was my second journey, previously meeting with both a Hip and Spine Specialist. By the time I got to Vail from FL, my spine and pelvis symptomatology was through the roof. Hip surgery was canceled and I was directed back to the spine surgeon, who essentially did nothing. I wound up in Vail Health ER in excruciating pain and disability. There, I was directed to Dr. Ernest Braxton, MD, Neurosurgeon. His Practice Manager Lori stepped in and realized the severity of the predicament and found a way to squeeze me in ASAP. It was a Godsend! First, Dr. Braxton's PA did a thorough clinical evaluation and called for new images. Timely, I then met Dr. Braxton, as positive, personable, direct, and knowledgeable as you'll ever meet. Wasting no time, he addressed the complex symptomatic condition. He defined the surgery as necessary and made it clear it was not "in his toolbox." Immediately he had a Spine surgeon in my home state on speakerphone introducing us and making a referral. He also identified the two Top Surgeons specific to my case in the USA if not the world and shortly after made direct referrals, New York City and San Fransisco. He then refocused me, the patient, and addressed the pain. He gave a thorough, cogent explanation of the treatment, a spinal injection to provide relief enough to hold me to travel back to FL and regroup. He literally outlined and graphed the pharmacology of the injection on the exam table paper for my clear understanding and expectations. I accepted and the procedure was quick and painless and has done the job he claimed it would. He sent me on my way yet followed up his promise to make the necessary referrals immediately. I cannot speak to his surgical skills, though have little doubt of his excellence. His Clinical Skills and Bedside Manner are superior! I give Dr. Ernest Braxton, MD, MBA a strong 5-star rating and would refer anyone including family to him in a heartbeat. His entire TEAM embodies his excellence!"

 by Jaryn Montgomery
Ahhhh-mazing, emphasis on the ahhhh

Dr. Braxton and his whole team are AMAZING. I had a pretty terrible accident 20 years ago and needed some major surgery re-done after the original hardware (not placed by him) broke. I had an extremely complex case (at least as far as I as concerned). He listened to my concerns carefully and thoughtfully. He addressed every single question I had with patience and kindness. His team were always quick to respond, even when it was just to answer my new crazy worries and questions galore. His bedside manner is outstanding, he even sat with me for almost a half hour in the hospital after surgery. His skill is out of this world. I haven't felt this good in 20 years! No joke. Even as my case continues to evolve he has been there to help me. I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone that needs his specialized set of skills. I can't express my gratitude enough.

 by chris ryan
Back Surgery MIRACLE

In 2010 I fell and hurt my back. After 10 years of seeing numerous different doctors who told me they could not help me, I met Dr. Braxton. He said he thought he could help. After not too much consultation/worry I decided to have double fusion back surgery. I went from constant, nagging, awful pain in my lower back to feeling like a new person. Dr. Braxton performed a MIRACLE for me!!!! This guy has the best bedside manner of any doctor I have ever met. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

 by Virginia Peyton Rogers
Back works now!

Last summer / fall I was in so much pain, I couldn't even get out of bed. Felt like my back was broken. After months of PT and not getting any better (actually felt like I was getting worse), went in for a MRI. The herniation in my back was so massive that the MRI techs noted it. Dr. Raub was honest and said even injections wouldn't help a herniation this large. We tried one and he was right, didn't help. Dr. Braxton got me in surgery to remove the herniation and in 48 hrs after surgery, I could actually get out of bed without massive pain! I'm back to all my activities now and able to chase my 5 year old around, it's soo nice! Thank you Dr. Braxton, Dr. Raub, and the whole VSO Team! You guys are amazing!

 by John Klinsing
Dr. Braxton and His Team Changed My Life

Dr. Braxton and his staff were always friendly, courteous and efficient. The medical procedure made a huge difference in my life...I can now walk without pain and resume my daily routines. I am so thankful that I contacted Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. Scheduling and Office visits were efficiently handled and I had confidence in all the recommendations and professional procedures. I highly recommend Dr. Braxton and his staff. We are very grateful for his expertise and commitment to improving my back problems.

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