Live broadcast of laparoscopic surgery to handheld computers

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Abstract

Background

Thanks to advances in computer power and miniaturization technology, portable electronic devices are now being used to assist physicians with various applications that extend far beyond Web browsing or sending e-mail. Handheld computers are used for electronic medical records, billing, coding, and to enable convenient access to electronic journals for reference purposes. The results of diagnostic investigations, such as laboratory results, study reports, and still radiographic pictures, can also be downloaded into portable devices for later view. Handheld computer technology, combined with wireless protocols and streaming video technology, has the added potential to become a powerful educational tool for medical students and residents. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of transferring multimedia data in real time to a handheld computer via a wireless network and displaying them on the computer screens of clients at remote locations.

Methods

A live laparoscopic splenectomy was transmitted live to eight handheld computers simultaneously through our institution's wireless network.

Results

All eight viewers were able to view the procedure and to hear the surgeon's comments throughout the entire duration of the operation.

Conclusion

Handheld computer technology can play a key role in surgical education by delivering information to surgical residents or students when they are geographically distant from the actual event. Validation of this new technology by conducting clinical research is still needed to determine whether resident physicians or medical students can benefit from the use of handheld computers.

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