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A complication in medicine, or medical complication, is an unfavorable evolution or consequence of a disease, health condition, or therapy. Complications may adversely affect the prognosis of a disease. Complications generally involve a worsening in severity of disease or the development of new signs, symptoms, or pathological changes, which may become widespread throughout the body, affecting other organ systems. Thus, complications may involve the development of new diseases resulting from a previously existing disease. Complications may also arise as a result of various therapies. Iatrogenic complications (from Greek, "brought forth by the healer") refers to medical treatments provided by physicians, including drugs or surgery with adverse effects that produce new health problem(s).[1]

The development of complications depends on a number of factors, including the degree of vulnerability, susceptibility, age, health status, and immune system condition.

Knowledge of the most common and severe complications of a disease, procedure, or treatment allow for prevention and preparation for treatment in the event that they should occur.

Complications are not to be confused with sequelae, which is a residual effect that occurs after the acute phase of an illness or injury. Sequelae can appear early or weeks to months later and are a result of the initial injury or illness. For example, a scar resulting from a burn or dysphagia resulting from a stroke would be considered sequelae.[2] In addition, complications should not be confused with comorbidities, which are diseases that occur concurrently but that have no causative association.


Examples of complicationsEdit


There may be financial pressures which act in opposition to preventing complications. A United States study found that hospitals make more money per patient when patients have complications.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Oropello JM, Kvetan V, Pastores SM (2016). Lange Critical Care. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0-07-182081-3. OCLC 961480454.
  2. ^ Kouchoukos NT, Blackstone EH, Hanley FL, Kirklin JK (2013). Kirklin/Barratt-Boyes cardiac surgery : morphology, diagnostic criteria, natural history, techniques, results, and indications (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 978-1-4557-4605-7. OCLC 812289395.
  3. ^ National Coordinating Centre for Women's and Children's Health (UK) (December 2012). "Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage: Diagnosis and Initial Management in Early Pregnancy of Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage". NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 154. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Mancuso CE, Tanzi MG, Gabay M (September 2004). "Paradoxical reactions to benzodiazepines: literature review and treatment options". Pharmacotherapy. 24 (9): 1177–85. doi:10.1592/phco.24.13.1177.38089. PMID 15460178.
  5. ^ Mayo Clinic Staff. "Open prostatectomy risks". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  6. ^ Silva LA, Andriolo RB, Atallah ÁN, da Silva EM (September 2014). "Surgery for stress urinary incontinence due to presumed sphincter deficiency after prostate surgery". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 9 (9): CD008306. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008306.pub3. PMID 25261861.
  7. ^ Jameson, J. Larry (2018). Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. New York City, NY, United States of America: McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-1-259-64403-0.
  8. ^ Gandhi TK, Burstin HR, Cook EF, Puopolo AL, Haas JS, Brennan TA, Bates DW (March 2000). "Drug complications in outpatients". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 15 (3): 149–54. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2000.04199.x. PMC 1495358. PMID 10718894.
  9. ^ Eappen S, Lane BH, Rosenberg B, Lipsitz SA, Sadoff D, Matheson D, Berry WR, Lester M, Gawande AA (April 2013). "Relationship between occurrence of surgical complications and hospital finances". JAMA. 309 (15): 1599–606. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2773. PMID 23592104.

Further readingEdit

  • Coventry BJ (2014). Surgery: Complications, Risks and Consequences. Book series, seven volumes. Springer.
  • Mulholland MW, Doherty GM (2006). Complications in Surgery. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. ISBN 978-0-7817-5316-6.
  • Gawande A (2002). Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. Macmillan.