ONE of the first patients in Scotland operated on by a pioneering new robotic surgeon has praised the technology for his speedy recovery.

Professor Alastair Campbell, 81, is one of 30 colorectal patients who have undergone procedures using the new Versius robot since it was launched at at the Western General in Edinburgh in November.

HeraldScotland: Camley's cartoon: Robo-surgeon praised.Camley's cartoon: Robo-surgeon praised.

Surgeons in Scotland are the first in Europe to use the device, which is remotely controlled by a human surgeon via a control pad similar to a games console.

Results have shown that it reduces recovery time.

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Prof Campbell, a retired professor of medical ethics, had a section of his colon removed and rejoined after medical investigations identified a polyp, which could be the signs of very early stage cancer.

He said: “The process was fully explained to me and I was very happy to take part and give it a go.

“I’m glad I did. I watched a video which explained how it worked and the benefits.

“The scars were very small and they have all but faded already.

“There was a bit of post operative pain, of course, but it was controlled very quickly and effectively.

“I’m very lucky.

“I am quite fit and I wanted to be home as quickly as I could after the procedure so I was pleased that within three days, I was home.”

The Versius robot - the world’s smallest surgical robot - was designed and built by Cambridge-based CMR Surgical as a rival to the American Da Vinci robotic system, which was first approved in 2000. They are already in use in several Scottish hospitals including the Golden Jubilee in Clydebank.

The 4ft-tall Versius has three or four independent arms which mimic a human’s in size and shape and is mobile enough to be wheeled from theatre to theatre.

It is placed next to the patient while the surgeon uses two “joystick” hand controls to remotely manoeuvre the robotic arms and rotating ‘wrists’ to perform the delicate keyhole surgery.

The number of incisions is minimised to limit infection risk and surgical tools are slid in and out of the body by the robot using small “ports”.

The surgeon, who can see inside the body using images on a TV screen, then controls the instruments with the hand controls at an open console.

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It makes long procedures less strenuous for medics, reduces the risk repetitive strain injury and cuts the practice time needed for young surgeons to train up in new procedures.

Consultant colorectal surgeon Doug Speake said: “This is the next revolution in surgical technology.

“We have gone from open surgery, to keyhole surgery, to robotic surgery. This is the future.

“It is a leap forward in surgical precision meaning patients recover faster and ultimately get home sooner.

“It is better for the patients and it is actually better for us.

“We were the first in Europe to use this technology. The robot puts the Western General Hospital and Edinburgh on the map as a centre for excellence and training.”