A new robotic surgery teaching lab will be dedicated today at the University of Iowa Hospitals. Dr. Javier Campos, a U-of-I professor and executive medical director of operating rooms, says the advanced lab is the first of its kind in the state and one of only a few in the country.

“This is a dedicated area where we have a robotic system exclusively to do teaching, to teach residents, fellows or other surgeons who are interested in robotic surgery,” Dr. Campos says. “This facility can be used with cadavers in order to practice surgical procedures and so on.”

The U-of-I has been using robotic surgery since 2002 and a second robotic machine was added in 2007. Campos says the new teaching lab contains the third robotic surgery system and was assembled for perhaps a quarter-million dollars, but it’s much more valuable. “We were able to obtain one of the robotic units from some other hospitals that were not using it, in fact, one hospital used it only five times in the past,” Campos says. “There was a very good opportunity for us to purchase that unit. The actual value of that unit is about $1.4-million and we were able to get that for a very low price.”

Using the robotic system, doctors can make a small incision in the patient’s body and do everything else by remote control. The surgeon sits at a computer console and uses joysticks to operate the robot’s instruments. The screen shows the body in three-D and can be magnified up to 12 times. The small instruments can be used in hard-to-reach areas and turned in ways that would be impossible with a normal wrist.

Campos says there are several advantages for patients with what’s called “minimally invasive” surgery, including less post-op pain.

“There is less length of stay, the patients are discharged from the hospital very quick, sometimes within 24 to 48 hours,” Campos says. “There is less scarring and less blood loss if the procedure goes with no complications.”

Today’s dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 P.M.