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Transmission rates in today's networks, and in their high-speed counterparts such as IEEE 802.6 and Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI), will be inadequate to meet the projected high-bandwidth demand of real-time multimedia applications. Among the potential high-bandwidth services, medical applications such as teleradiology, teleconsulting, dynamic radiation treatment planning, electronic image storage and retrieval, electronic library, and electronic claim processing are of great importance towards realizing an efficient and cost-effective health care system. Recent developments in asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) based broadband integrated services digital network (B-ISDN) created new opportunities for supporting bandwidth-hungry multimedia real-time traffic, a fundamental requirement for medical communications. In a medical communications environment several traffic classes associated with different applications have to be supported. Transmission of these varied media sources over a wide area under strict intermedia synchronization and bounded-delay requirements creates a new set of problems for the underlying network. Thus, new communication protocols, congestion control and synchronization schemes need to be provided with a spectrum of reliability levels and real-time characteristics to support a wide range of quality of service requirements indicated by each media type with respect to individual applications. However, a basic necessity in developing these traffic control and management schemes is a thorough understanding of the basic traffic characteristics, and how they can be supported in an integrated environment.