Thoracic Regional Anesthesia (RA) Simulator

Mixed-Reality Simulator of Thoracic Regional Anesthesia

This robust, turnkey, mixed-reality simulator simulates part of an anatomically correct thorax for practicing, learning, teaching and debriefing thoracic paravertebral blocks and placement of thoracic epidurals with and without ultrasound guidance or assistance.

Designed for austere environments, this medical simulator does not require wireless or internet access or wet fluids and accepts 110/220V, 50/60Hz. It can be unpacked, set-up and operational by an unfamiliar person in 5-7 minutes. The portable simulator fits inside a military-spec padded case with in-built wheels and telescoping pull-handle that can travel as checked airline luggage and weighs less than 50 lbs (23 kg).

The Thoracic Regional Anesthesia simulator has been presented all over the world, sharing workshop space with live human ultrasound models and cadaver stations. It has also been used by a senior UF anesthesiology faculty instructor to re-design and re-evaluate the way UF anesthesiology residents are taught thoracic paravertebral blocks. During resident training, mistakes were intentionally introduced and their consequences analyzed and demonstrated on the simulator without causing harm to real patients. The procedural steps were then modified to make consequences of common mistakes less likely to cause harm. Thoracic paravertebral blocks, uncommon in many areas of the world, are now common at UF Health.

We can provide access to the simulator or copies of the simulator. Contact us for details.


  • CT Scan-based 3D printed high-anatomical fidelity spine plastic model encased in gel
  • Virtual model of the anatomy of the spinal cord, nerves, lungs, ligaments, veins and arteries
  • Tracked instruments: needle, ultrasound probe, virtual camera (interoperable between SMMARTS-compliant simulators)
  • Common System of Modular Mixed and Augmented Reality Tracking Simulators (SMMARTS) modular stand for use with other modular anatomies and procedures
  • Automated scoring and replay system for after action review (AAR)
  • Automated curriculum (including videos, lectures, mini-skills and detailed scoring algorithms) for ultrasound-guided, assisted and landmark techniques and procedures

RA simulator



  • Thoracic paravertebral with ultrasound guidance/assistance/landmark (Out-of-Plane/In-plane)
  • Thoracic epidural with ultrasound assistance/landmark (Midline/Paramedian)
  • Under Development: Thoracic intercostal with ultrasound guidance/assistance/landmark


  • Adheres to SMMARTS rapid simulation development platform specifications
  • Quick-release placement and indexing of SMMARTS-compliant anatomies to SMMARTS platform
  • Anatomically correct, based on medical imaging scans of a real human
  • Precise sub-millimeter tracking of all tracked tools
  • High-durability skin can be rejuvenated in situ for indefinite reuse

screenshot of RA simulation




  • Functional Loss-Of-Resistance syringe
  • Simulated hydrolocation in US image & 3D visualization
  • Adjustable lung and epidural space for difficulty levels
  • Adjustable view modes for realism and AARs
  • Ultrasound probe with depth markers
  • Hybrid cross-sectional view (3D visualization in back half)
  • Anisotropy simulation for both needle and lung
  • Cognitive aids for US probe and needle orientation
  • Tactile feedback of bone and ligament puncture
  • Debriefing with replay of past saved procedures

RA sim needle and ultrasound probe components


RA Simulator Study 2016