BACKGROUND:The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and accuracy of a video telecommunication network to transmit coronary images to provide on-line interaction between personnel in a cardiac catheterization laboratory and a remote core laboratory. METHODS:A telecommunication system was installed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Kaiser Hospital, Los Angeles, and the core laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, approximately 40 miles away. Cineangiograms, live fluoroscopy, intravascular ultrasound studies and images of the catheterization laboratory were transmitted in real time over a dedicated T1 line at 768 kilobytes/second at 15 frames/second. These cases were performed during a clinical study of angiographic guidance versus intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) guidance of stent deployment. During the cases the core laboratory performed quantitative analysis of the angiograms and ultrasound images. Selected images were then annotated and transmitted back to the catheterization laboratory to facilitate discussion during the procedure. RESULTS:A successful communication hookup was obtained in 39 (98%) of 40 cases. Measurements of angiographic parameters were very close between the original cinefilm and the transmitted images. Quantitative analysis of the ultrasound images showed no significant difference in any of the diameter or cross-sectional area measurements between the original ultrasound tape and the transmitted images. The telecommunication link during the interventional procedures had a significant impact in 23 (58%) of 40 cases affecting the area to be treated, the size of the inflation balloon, recognition of stent underdeployment, or the existence of disease in other areas that was not noted on the original studies. CONCLUSIONS:Current video telecommunication systems provide high-quality images on-line with accurate representation of cineangiograms and intravascular ultrasound images. This system had a significant impact on 58% of the cases in this small clinical trial. Telecommunication networks between hospitals and a central core laboratory may facilitate physician training and improve technical skills and judgement during interventional procedures. This project has implications for how multicenter clinical trials could be operated through telecommunication networks to ensure conformity with the protocol.