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Online Camera Hookup Links Hospitals to War-Zone Clinicians

July 26, 2013 | Telepresence Options

hospital war-zone conference


Story by Jennifer Hanawald / Anesthesiology News

Physicians performing emergency endoscopic procedures on the battlefield may soon have another tool in their arsenal to help them deliver better care and potentially save lives.

By using a newly developed camera that connects easily to existing technology, doctors working with trauma cases in extreme conditions with only a basic Internet connection could quickly access advice and support from remote sources. The setup also can be used to teach deployed medical personnel new procedural techniques and for continuing education, according to anesthesiologist researchers from the Center for Advanced Technology and Telemedicine (CATT) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), in Omaha, who presented their findings at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (abstract 562).

To test the feasibility of the equipment, the researchers connected a Karl Storz video stylet to the newly developed C-CAM camera, which was attached to the C-Hub, a small box that converts images into a format that can be transmitted by computer. This C-Hub was in turn hooked up to a USB computer port to allow online video sharing. A connection was established between the CATT laboratory in Omaha, the Spanish Army Hospital in Madrid and a far-forward NATO base in Herat, Afghanistan.

The researchers demonstrated the technology by conducting a remote oral intubation on a difficult airway manikin. Real-time images were transmitted from the video stylet through the camera and viewed by participants in all locations, who found the image quality acceptable enough to allow for remote direction of complex tasks. Karl Storz, an international company that develops products to support airway management and other endoscopic-related instruments, manufactured the devices. In practice, doctors could use any video conferencing software, such as Skype, FaceTime or Adobe Connect, the last of which was used in the demonstration.

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