Ernest Braxton, MD, former chief of neurosurgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center, is one of a handful of surgeons offering awake spinal fusions in the U.S., The Aspen Times reports.
Three years ago, Dr. Braxton left his post in Texas to join Vail (Colo.) Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery. His practice has since shifted from treating active-duty military patients to athletes.
Awake spinal fusion involves giving patients a local anesthetic to let surgeons examine their neurologic condition during surgery.
The novel procedure helps surgeons ensure that no damage is being done to the patient. It also eliminates the need to use intravenous narcotics and reduces the cost of stay.
Alok Sharan, MD, co-director of the Westmed Spine Center in Yonkers, N.Y., an early adopter of awake spinal fusion, projects that there are fewer than 10 surgeons in the U.S. who perform the procedure.
Dr. Sharan recently established a virtual study group with Muhammad Abd-El-Barr, MD, PhD, of Duke Spine Center in Durham, N.C., to share best practices for the procedure.