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Complication (medicine)

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Complication, in medicine, is an unfavorable evolution or consequence of a disease, a health condition or a therapy. The disease can become worse in its severity or show a higher number of signs, symptoms or new pathological changes, become widespread throughout the body or affect other organ systems. A new disease may also appear as a complication to a previous existing disease. A medical treatment, such as drugs or surgery may produce adverse effects or produce new health problem(s) by itself. Therefore, a complication may be iatrogenic (i.e. literally brought forth by the physician).

Medical knowledge about a disease, procedure or treatment usually entails a list of the most common complications, so that they can be foreseen, prevented or recognized more easily and speedily.

Depending on the degree of vulnerability, susceptibility, age, health status, immune system condition, etc. complications may arise more easily. Complications affect adversely the prognosis of a disease. Non-invasive and minimally invasive medical procedures usually favor fewer complications in comparison to invasive ones.

Disorders that are concomitant but are not caused by the other disorder are comorbidities. This conceptual dividing line is sometimes blurred by the complexity of the causation or the lack of definite information about it. The terms sequela and complication are often synonymous, although complication connotes that the resultant condition complicates the management of the causative condition (makes it more complex and challenging).


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.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "Paradoxical Reactions to Benzodiazepines".
  3. ^ Mayo Clinic Staff. "Open prostatectomy risks". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  4. ^ Silva, LA; Andriolo, RB; Atallah, ÁN; da Silva, EM (Sep 27, 2014). "Surgery for stress urinary incontinence due to presumed sphincter deficiency after prostate surgery". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 9: CD008306. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008306.pub3. PMID 25261861.
  5. ^ Gandhi TK, Burstin HR, Cook EF, Puopolo AL, Haas JS, Brennan TA, Bates DW (March 2000). "Drug complications in outpatients". J Gen Intern Med. 15 (3): 149–54. PMC 1495358. PMID 10718894.
  6. ^ Eappen, S.; Lane, B. H.; Rosenberg, B.; Lipsitz, S. A.; Sadoff, D.; Matheson, D.; Berry, W. R.; Lester, M.; Gawande, A. A. (2013). "Relationship Between Occurrence of Surgical Complications and Hospital Finances". JAMA. 309 (15): 1599–1606. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2773. PMID 23592104.

Further readingEdit

  • Coventry, Brendon J. Surgery: Complications, Risks and Consequences. Book series, seven volumes. Springer (2014).
  • Mulholland, Michael W. & Doherty, Gerard M. Complications in Surgery. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2006).
  • Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. Macmillan (2002).