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This paper describes a large, heterogeneous network of supercomputers, workstations, and personal computers for clinicians and researchers at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo. Intended uses of the system include a medical-image database, a patient-record database, visualization of 3D medical images, computer-assisted diagnosis, genome and protein databases, and proof-of-concept synthetic environments. An overview of the system is followed by detailed descriptions of two subsystems: the medical-image-database subsystem and the synthetic-environment subsystem. The medical-image-database subsystem integrates a large number of image-acquisition devices, such as X-ray computed tomography and ultrasound echography equipment. The image database is designed for a high image-data input rate by means of a storage hierarchy and high-speed network connections. The synthetic-environment subsystem includes two prototype applications (a neurosurgery simulator and an anatomy viewer) that explore the possibilities of synthetic-environment technology in medicine.
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