Although Internet expansion makes possible the communication between local databases, obtaining data from multicentric data banks in the medical scope is greatly limited by legal, ethical and professional aspects. However, as a dynamic profession with high social impact, the medical practice needs to exploit the communication of clinical results to improve the service that it provides. Both the medical community and companies in this sector have a great deal of interest in surpassing this technical limitations.
Distributed databases constitute a real solution to this problem. With this approach, information is stored locally over a set of nodes, without limiting database management. Thus, specialists can perform research at world-wide level on a great database that is partially contained in the equipment of every hospital unit, respecting the ethical restrictions of the information.
Our research activity, in collaboration with Hospital General de Antequera and publicly funded, has resulted in the creation and international spreading of a program for the local management of information about arthroplasty patiens tracking. With this program, toghether with existing databases, the aim is to implement a special interest network on arthroplasty. This network will be based on a distributed database and will allow the main functions that specialist demand: (1) clinical result reference (similar cases and their evolution depending on treatment), and (2) contact with similar units (by population characteristics, types of prosthesis used and surgical methodologies). Network functionality wil be complemented by a web site in which technical contents of general interest for the medical community will be shared.