Medical Definition of Contraindication

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018