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August 22, 2003
First Broadband International Tele-Surgery Link for Japan
Gigabit Connection Promotes Japan-Korea Tele-Surgery
Kyushu University (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture; President, Chisato Kajiyama) has completed implementation of a system designed to provide remote support for endoscopic surgery using a high-speed Internet link between the cities of Fukuoka in Japan and Seoul in South Korea. The university undertook system development jointly with Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. (Shinjuku, Tokyo; President, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa), Fujitsu Nishi-Nihon Communication Systems Co., Ltd. (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture; President, Hiroshi Takagi), the Genkai Project Association (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture; Secretary, Koji Okamura), and Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. (KEPCO: Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture; President, Shingo Matsuo). This link represents the first international high-speed Internet connection completed in Japan that has been created specifically to support tele-surgery.
Created in 2001, the Genkai Project is working to promote joint Japan-Korea initiatives in the industrial, government and academic spheres, with the greater aim being to foster closer relations between the two countries. One focus of the project has been to establish a direct connection with gigabit bandwidth between Kyushu University and South Korea by means of an undersea cable network (the KJCN) that spans the Korea Strait, the stretch of water separating the island of Kyushu and the Korean peninsula. The project aims to promote greater academic and cultural interchange between Japan and Korea via the ultra-high-speed communication links installed along the KJCN cables.
This Japan-Korea tele-surgery initiative is a good example of international cooperation in the medical sphere. Using an Internet Protocol (IP) network, the link will enable real-time transmission of images of endoscopic surgery being conducted at Kyushu University to South Korea. Based on the surgical images received, medical specialists on the Korean side will be able to hold conference discussions with Japanese counterparts concerning matters such as pre-surgical examination results and surgical techniques.
Tele-surgery initiative: selected details
Start date August 22, 2003
Japan:  Kyushu University Hospital,
(Operating room, Conference room of Endoscopic Diagnostics and Therapeutics Dept.)
Address: 1-1, Maidashi-3-chome, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka Project head: Prof. Masao Tanaka (Endoscopic Diagnostics and Therapeutics Dept.)
S. Korea:  National Cancer Center
Project head: Dr. Young-Woo Kim (Gastrointestinal Surgery)
Inter-location distance approx. 600km
Connection bandwidth 70Mbps
Transmission system DVTS (Digital Video Transfer System)
Security measures VPN (Virtual Private Network) with use of signal encryption
Relative to conventional video images, medical images impose three particular demands: high resolution (to enable viewers to distinguish fine anatomical detail), high-speed transmission (to ensure that the video images remain smooth), and a multi-channel capability (to accommodate sound and the transmission of related data). For these reasons, medical images need an ultra-high-speed connection. The KJCN ultra-high-speed undersea cable network linking Japan and Korea was thus the ideal choice for providing the necessary IT infrastructure for the tele-surgery initiative.
Endoscopic surgery has become steadily more popular since the start of the 1990s due to its low invasiveness and cost advantages. Even so, the speed of take-up of such endoscope-based techniques has varied widely between countries and regions. The techniques of endoscopic surgery are gradually becoming strongly established in Japan, and it is hoped that sharing and discussing such knowledge with Korean medical specialists will act as a significant boost in their development and broader dissemination. The tech-savvy nation of South Korea boasts the highest penetration rates for broadband and other kinds of Internet connection in the world. The organizers of this tele-surgery initiative hope that the sharing of information and expertise from Japan will prove to be of benefit not only in the field of endoscopic surgery, but will also serve as a model for further mutual cooperation between Japan and Korea in the medical arena.
System overview
Roles of project participants
Olympus is supplying the image transmission system, including the EndoALPHA Integrated Endosurgery System and the tele-surgery controller that provide the video transmission interface.
Fujitsu Nishi-Nihon Communication Systems is supplying the DVSTREAM video transmission equipment.
The Genkai Project Association is supplying the ultra-high-speed Internet connection via the undersea cable network spanning Japan and Korea.
KEPCO is supplying access to the KJCN, an international connection that links the two countries.
*Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. was changed to OLYMPUS CORPORATION as of October 1, 2003.
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