Dr. Ernest Braxton performs 1st awake spine surgery in Nepal


Ernest Braxton, MD, neurosurgeon at Vail (Colo.) Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery, has completed the first awake spine surgery in Nepal, according to a Feb. 16 report from the VailDaily.

Dr. Braxton was inspired by colleague Richard Wohns, MD, who travels to Nepal every year with the Nepal Spine Foundation to teach local surgeons new, innovative surgical techniques. 

Dr. Wohns created the foundation to improve access to care through a collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

"One of the things Dr. Wohns thought might be of interest to the neurosurgeons in Nepal is doing the surgeries while the patient is awake and without general anesthesia," Dr. Braxton told the Daily. "The way the Nepalese hospitals are structured, everybody's in the hospital for several days after surgery, and from a cost and efficiency standpoint, the doctors were very interested in it. It's a very low-cost intervention that they can do right away. It's a safer operation, too, in that the patients are not exposed to general anesthesia."

Dr. Braxton traveled to Nepal with his two physician assistants, Holley Spears, PA, and Laura Humen, PA. He was also joined by nurse Bri Snyder, RN, and equipment representative Matthew Merritt. 

He and his team went during Spine Week, where visiting surgeons spend time teaching local residents, fellows and surgeons. 

Dr. Braxton performed several surgeries during his time in Nepal, including one that was unscheduled after a construction worker fell at a job site. 

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