Hospitals in Norway, Italy and Spain have been linked together using an advanced video conferencing system enabling them to share real-time images of surgery for training and diagnosis.

The systems were linked as part of a demonstration at the Terena Networking Conference in Malaga this week, intended to show how similar telemedicine systems could improve healthcare across Europe

St Olav’s Hospital in Norway, Monaldi Hospital in Italy and the Hospital Clinica in Barcelona, Spain, were connected to each other via their hosts and the pan-European GÉANT academic network to the conference.

Staff at each of the hospitals provided a virtual tour of how endoscopic surgery can be transmitted for training across the GÉANT network, operated by the Dante research organisation.

Dai Davies, general manager of Dante, said: “Telemedicine has the power to improve medical training and patient care across Europe.

He added: “It provides the ability to view new surgical techniques and collaborate internationally on diagnosis and share skills and experience. The success of this demonstration shows how high speed networking can underpin telemedicine across Europe and the world, enhancing healthcare for all.”

The demonstration was created and run by the Telemedicine Development Centre of Asia (TEMDEC). TEMDEC believe that by using GÉANT and national research education networks, high quality images can be transmitted at 30 Mbps using digital video transport system equipment that can be run from a standard PC.

Dr Shuji Shimizu of TEMDEC, said: “Surgical training has traditionally been based on observing operations and learning from them.

“As surgical skills become more specialised we need to be able to train surgeons remotely in order to improve knowledge transfer and enhance abilities. Using television-quality video over the GÉANT network to remotely watch live keyhole surgery undertaken in other countries, promises a disruptive change to training in this area, benefiting all involved.

TEMDEC has already carried out over 100 demonstrations of this kind across the World, but the Malaga demonstration is the first to link hospitals across Europe.

Shimizu added: “We hope that this demonstration is the first step in the adoption of increased telemedicine use across Europe.”

TEMDEC is now working to move from a digital video transport system to high definition pictures to further enhance quality.