Background: Video broadcasting of surgical procedures is an important tool for education, training, and consultation. Current video conferencing systems are expensive and time-consuming and require preplanning. Real-time Internet video is known for its poor quality and relies on the equipment and the speed of the connection. The Internet2, a new high-speed (up to 2,048 Mbps), large bandwidth data network presently connects more than 100 universities and corporations. We have successfully used the Internet2 to broadcast the first real-time, high-quality audio/video program from a live laparoscopic operation to distant points.Methods: Video output of the laparoscopic camera and audio from a wireless microphone were broadcast to distant sites using a proprietary, PC-based implementation of H.320 video conferencing over a TCP/IP network connected to the Internet2. The receiving sites participated in two-way, real-time video and audio communications and graded the quality of the signal they received.Results: On August 25, 1998, a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication was transmitted to Internet2 stations in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and to an Internet station in New York. On September 28 and 29, 1998, we broadcast laparoscopic operations throughout both days to the Internet2 Fall Conference in San Francisco, California. Most recently, on February 24, 1999, we transmitted a laparoscopic Heller myotomy to the Abilene Network Launch Event in Washington, DC.Conclusions: The Internet2 is currently able to provide the bandwidth needed for a turn-key video conferencing system with high-resolution, real-time transmission. The system could be used for a variety of teaching and educational programs for experienced surgeons, residents, and medical students. Copyright (C) 1999 Excerpta Medica Inc.
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