Development and Evaluation of an Augmented Reality Ultrasound Guidance System for Spinal Anesthesia: Preliminary Results

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2019 Oct;45(10):2736-2746. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2019.04.026. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Applications of ultrasound guidance for epidural injections are hindered by poor needle and epidural space visualization. This work presents an augmented reality (AR) ultrasound guidance system that addresses challenges in both needle visualization during navigation and epidural space identification for needle positioning. In this system, (i) B-mode ultrasound and the needle are visualized in a 3-D AR environment for improved navigation, and (ii) A-mode ultrasound, obtained from a custom-made single-element transducer housed at the needle tip, is used to identify the epidural space for improved needle positioning. Performance of the system was evaluated against ultrasound-only guidance in a phantom study with novice operators and an expert anesthesiologist. The procedure success rate was higher with the AR system (100%) than ultrasound-only guidance (57%). The AR system has the potential to improve procedure outcomes in terms of success rate, time, needle path-length and usability.

Keywords: Augmented reality; Epidural injections; Image guidance; Needle guidance; Ultrasound needle transducer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Spinal / methods*
  • Augmented Reality*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*

Grants and funding