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Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center on Monday dedicated a new surgical suite to house its robotic surgery program.

The $3 million project expanded the patient recovery area, updated and redecorated the family waiting area and supported technology upgrades, including purchase of a $1.7 million robotic surgery machine.

In February, the hospital announced it had purchased the da Vinci Si robotic surgery system.

The project comes in response to a rising volume of surgeries at the medical center, according to officials.

“We have seen a substantial increase in both the number of surgeons on our medical staff and the number of surgeries they perform here,” Dr. Venkat Kolli, the medical center’s chief of surgery, said in a statement.

“Having a new operating room dedicated to robotic surgery will give us the scheduling flexibility we need to accommodate that growth, including the addition of single-incision robotic gallbladder surgery,” he said.

The renovation project also includes installation of new communication lines and diagnostic data stations that will support an electronic patient medical record system.

Dr. Donna Feldman, chairwoman of the hospital’s Division of Robotic Surgery, said the expansion improves access for the institution’s 12 surgeons trained in robotic surgery and, as a result, will lead to shorter wait times for patients.

The da Vinci robot is made by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical Inc. In a procedure, physicians sit at a console, staring into a 3-D monitor with magnification while manipulating hand and foot controllers that operate tiny instruments attached to robotic arms, which are situated over the patient and inserted into the body through a few small incisions.

The costly machines remain a source of debate in the medical community nationwide.

Advocates note that robotic surgery offers greater precision and control during procedures, meaning fewer complications.

Skeptics of the technology question whether the benefits of the technology actually lead to improved long-term outcomes over standard surgery or laparoscopy.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com