Ernest Braxton, MD, MBA
Dr. Ernest Braxton is a Board Certified neurosurgeon specializing in brain tumors, 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.
- 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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"I’m back home after my microdiscectomy. It took five hours, door to door — and the attendant who received and sent me home told Silvia and me the it was a record. Who knew? The truth is that I was one of the only patients in the surgical wing of the hospital, so the staff was eager to serve me.
And serve me they did. I cannot tell you how incredible the attention I received was, from start to finish.
I’m typing this email at my stand-up desk that I haven’t been able to use since late February, when my sciatica kicked in. Of course, I’m still high on the epidural that they gave me, so let’s see how I feel when that wears off.
Now here’s the interesting aspect of all this. The word micro in microdiscectomy does not mean small. It refers to the fact that the surgery is performed by the surgeon, Dr. Ernest Braxton, of Vail Summit Orthopaedics, using a microscope and screen. He inserts a small hollow metal tube through a tiny (one inch) incision on the mid-line of my back, and uses surgical tools — one of which is a camera -- that are inserted through that tube and used to perform the operation. AND here is the best part. I got an epidural to allow placement of the tube, but otherwise I was awake and able to see the entire procedure on a second screen placed at the head end of the operating table. What a show!
If you want to know what Dr. Braxton saw and “fixed”, here’s what the op report said: "We identified a rostrally migrated lumbar disc herniation compressing the shoulder of the exiting L4 nerve root as well as a large foraminal disc herniation. These were resected via hemilaminotomy approach." ENOUGH."
At 13 years old I was diagnosed with Spondylosisthesis. It took multiple doctors, MRIs, chiropractors, and massage to stay comfortable each year. At 25 years old I found my hero!! Dr. Braxton!! He met with me after I finally hit a breaking point.... I didn’t think spinal fusion or disc replacement would be in my life this soon, and I never thought I’d say I was blessed to have one.... But thanks to the him I am a new person and couldn’t be more grateful. His knowledge, kind heart, and comfort brought me a new back and a huge smile. I would recommend him to anyone in need of his services. So thankful I’m back to gaining strength, pain free, living the active life I strive for even more so now with my new back. THANK YOU DR. BRAXTON AND YOUR TEAM.
I was in such pain from a pinched nerve I could hardly walk. Definitely was not able to walk the 3 - 5 miles I was accustomed to every day. Dr. Braxton explained my MRI results and what needed to be done clearly and kindly. The day of the surgery I hobbled in with the support of my son. 71 years old, I felt grey and decrepit. I was immediately at ease with the entire surgical staff and support team. Was awake during the surgery. After being returned to the recovery area I was asked if I needed to go to the bathroom. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and walked painfree! A month after surgery I am up to walking 3 miles again.
I lost all strength in my left hand after waking up one morning after skiing. I had an MRI which showed pinched nerves in my cervical spine. Dr. Braxton had his office schedule me the next day to see him as he explained it was a serious issue and i could lose the use of hand if not rectified soon. The next day he was able to fit me into his Schedule for a Anterior Cervical Surgery. Prior to the Surgery he did a very detailed explanation of it and why I should proceed. Dr. Braxton has a wonderful bedside manner and answered all my questions. The Surgery went great. The next day I was surprised to see I had a small amount of my hand strength back. I am now in PT to recover the rest of my strength. I highly recommend Dr. Braxton and his team. Thank you Dr. Braxton for a great job and helping me get back to skiing ASAP!
Just a note of thanks. It has been four months since my surgery and I now have a life I could only image before it. The surgery was an amazing experience, all good. Being able to talk and ask questions while it was happening was unexpected but made it much easier. My pain level before the surgery had been extremely high, now I have no nerve pain.
Thank you for making it possible for me to have adventures in the great outdoors once again.
Carol from Grand Junction
I had a L4/L5 Anterior Lumbar Fusion with Dr. Braxton 5 months ago and have been feeling great ever since. I can now sit driving and in an airplane and stand/walk as long as I want. Before surgery I had difficulty standing in the PM and picking up after my dog was very difficult. I was amazed how I had no post operative pain, only a little itchy sensation on my scar that was 1" long, just under my belly button, and about the 4 very small incisions on my back side. I had no deep axial pain, despite 7 screws, a wedge spacer and 2 bars to stabilize my 2 vertebrae together.
I am back to Mountain Biking and Telemark Skiing at 50-75% of normal and I am sure that the compassionate care, the professional attention, and the most amazing bed side manor that is Dr. Braxton, had a lot to do with that.
Thank you Dr. Braxton for the stability that 23 years of Pilates, no longer provided.
"On July 24, 2019, I met with Dr. Ernest Braxton, my neurosurgeon to plan for spine surgery to correct Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. I was advised that surgery would last approximately three hours. I was given the option of foregoing general anesthesia to be fully awake under monitored anesthesia. I agreed to this groundbreaking procedure and was offered the option of watching a movie on an I-Pad for the duration. I proposed a music source on headphones instead and Dr. Braxton thought that was a great idea. I was told to bring my smartphone and headphones to the operation.
I checked in for my surgery on August 1 and was concerned that my smart phone and headphones might not pass the rigorous operation room sanitary standards. The OR team simply wiped them down and that became a non-issue. As the procedure began I lay face down on the operating table with headphones on and began listening to jazz on Pandora. I awaited the inevitable stings from injections. My normal inclination has always been to tense up not knowing the number and intensity of pending injections. I turned my attention to the sounds of jazz, visualizing the instrumentation that I was hearing and relaxed. Very shortly a nurse lifted a headphone to report the injections were complete. Discomfort was minimum. As the operation activity continued I was vaguely aware of background voices and varying pressures on the lumbar area of my back. The access incision was barely noticeable. My jazz concert was only occasionally interrupted by a nurse with a progress report and opportunity to ask questions. I was given a one-word signal to advise if IV anesthesia needed to be increased. Overall the dominant sensory presence was jazz. I was totally dialed in to the varying rhythms, the elusive melodies, and the emotional solos. I have no doubt that the jazz made the overall experience far more tolerable in my fully conscious experience. As I was rolled from the operation room to the recovery room I was struck by how clear my visual and audible senses were. This would not have been the case under general anesthesia. While I rested in the recovery room I could easily see how this could be a one-day outpatient experience. As it turned out, a variety of tests such as oxygen consumption ruled in favor of an overnight observation. The jazz immersion continued in the recovery room and I vowed to make it an integral part of my recovery at home. I was released the next day. Jazz continued to be at the core of my pain management in the following weeks of homebound recovery.
While jazz was my genre of choice, I have no doubt that other music passions such as classical or bluegrass would have similar therapeutic affects during conscious surgery. Surgery centers should be prepared to offer these listening options. The power of music cannot be overestimated."
“Dr. Braxton did a laminectomy for me at the Vail hospital. All personnel treated me very well and we had a successful surgery. I have finished PT, and am now going to the rec center here in Montrose 2-3 times a week to walk in the river walk. I no longer have the pain that the surgery was done for.”