Epidural anesthesia is a common technique for perioperative analgesia and chronic pain treatment. Since ultrasonography is insufficient for depicting the human vertebral surface, most examiners apply epidural puncture by body surface landmarks on the back such as the spinous process and scapulae without any imaging, including ultrasonography. The puncture route to the epidural space at thoracic vertebrae is much narrower than that at lumber vertebrae, and therefore, epidural anesthesia at thoracic vertebrae is difficult, especially for a beginner. Herein, a novel imaging method is proposed based on a bi-static imaging technique by making use of the transmit beam width and direction. In an in vivo experimental study on human thoracic vertebrae, the proposed method succeeded in depicting the vertebral surface clearly as compared with conventional B-mode imaging and the conventional envelope method. This indicates the potential of the proposed method in visualizing the vertebral surface for the proper and safe execution of epidural anesthesia.
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