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This paper proposes an automated blood vessel detection scheme based on adaptive contrast enhancement, feature extraction, and tracing. Feature extraction of small blood vessels is performed by using the standard deviation of Gabor filter responses. Tracing of vessels is done via forward detection, bifurcation identification, and backward verification. Tests over twenty images show that for normal images, the true positive rate (TPR) ranges from 80% to 91%, and their corresponding false positive rates (FPR) range from 2.8% to 5.5%. For abnormal images, the TPR ranges from 73.8% to 86.5% and the FPR ranges from 2.1% to 5.3%, respectively. In comparison with two published solution schemes that were also based on the STARE database, our scheme has lower FPR for the reported TPR measure.