Over a thousand cardiovascular specialists, assembled in the 18th Annual Cardiothoracic Surgery Symposium in San Diego, were able to take part in a virtual, interactive cardiac surgical procedure, performed at a distance of about 5000 kilometers away, at University Medial Centre in Greenville, North Carolina. VTel Corporation, a telecom provider based in Austin, Texas, used its Digital Visual Communications technology, in collaboration with the Telemedicine Technologies Company of East Carolina University, to establish the link between San Diego and Greenville via three ISDN-lines. The symposium participants were offered a lively discussion forum with both the surgical team in Greenville and a panel of experts in San Diego.
The symposium attendants in the conference hall witnessed the unique hands-on experience by the Greenville-team through NTSC-technology, at a rate of thirty images per second, with the camera in the operating theatre remotely being tended. The interaction was performed via a VTel TC2000 dual-monitor room system, transferring at a speed of 384 Kbps. Three dial-up lines from PacBell connected the San Diego conference centre with Sprint in North Carolina, which in turn provided transmission to the University Medical Centre in Greenville. As a partner of the East Carolina University, the Telemedicine Technologies Company preferred to choose this option in order to preserve the patient's confidentiality.
The surgical intervention involved a heart valve repair procedure, conducted by Dr. Randolph Chitwood, Chief Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at East Carolina University (ECU) Medical Centre. As one of America's leading and most renowned minimally invasive heart surgeons, he demonstrated, during a two-hour presentation of myocardial protection, the latest advancements in minimally invasive heart surgery to his audience of colleagues in San Diego. The innovative telemedicine application has proven to form an extremely useful tool for sharing remote showcases of new medical developments with community hospitals and medical centres across the United States and around the world. Both VTel president, Jerry S. Benson Jr., and Telemedicine Director for East Carlonia Universersity, David Balch, are convinced that heart patients will largely benefit from this powerful potential to provide a high educational level towards physicians, using state-of-the-art technologies.