Definition of Contraindication

Contraindication: A condition which makes a particular treatment or procedure potentially inadvisable. A contraindication may be absolute or relative.

  • An absolute contraindication is a situation which makes a particular treatment or procedure absolutely inadvisable. In children, for example, aspirin is almost always contraindicated because of the danger that aspirin will cause Reye syndrome.
  • A relative contraindication is a condition which makes a particular treatment or procedure possibly inadvisable. For example, X-rays in pregnancy are relatively contraindicated (because of concern for the developing fetus) unless the X-rays are absolutely necessary.

Contraindications often highlight the balance of risk versus benefit of a particular treatment or procedure.


Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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