Bradford’s new £2million surgical robot has carried out 26 operations since arriving at the city’s Royal Infirmary six months ago.

The da Vinci robot is an innovative surgical machine which acts as an extension of the surgeon’s hands and fingers in miniature.

Prostate cancer patient Mike Watson, 60, of Skipton, was the first da Vinci surgical robot patient on July 27.

Since then it has been used to carry out 23 prostate procedures and three bladder removals, and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recently became the first centre in the North of England to carry out the robotic surgical removal of the bladder and prostate and the reconstruction of a new bladder.

There are now plans in place for colorectal and maxillo-facial surgeons at the Foundation Trust to begin using the surgical robot for some procedures later in 2013.

Mr Watson, who was operated on by consultant surgeon Sanjai Addla using the da Vinci robot, said: “I was enthusiastic about robot surgery as I had done my research and learned that the recovery time would be much quicker and that the actual incisions would be so much smaller than conventional surgery.

" I expected to feel really sore but now, having had the operation, I can honestly say I have felt no pain.”

During the operation one arm of the robot carries a camera and sends a 3D image of the patient’s insides back to the surgeon.

The real-time image is then magnified eight times while the other robotic arms are moved around by the surgeon to perform the operation. They can rotate 360 degrees, allowing surgeons more precision than they have with their own hands.

The robotic arms are steady and manoeuvrable and can iron out any shakes in the surgeon’s movements. Patients recover far more quickly than with normal abdominal surgery, and are likely to be back at work in two to four weeks rather than in six weeks to three months.

Mr Watson said: “I’ve had what I consider the best and least invasive method available.”

Mr Addla said: “This is definitely the surgery of the future. I envisage a time coming when it will be rare to have an open abdominal operation, and just as rare to have conventional keyhole surgery.”

The Foundation Trust’s da Vinci robot was made possible thanks to the support of the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust which generously donated £200,000.

Trustee of the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust and chief executive of Sovereign Health Care, Russ Piper, said: “We are delighted that the da Vinci robot’s first patient operation was a success and that Mike has made a speedy recovery.”

The Foundation Trust has established a charity fund to help with the robot’s £140,000 per year running costs. Call (01274) 364809.