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Elective Surgery

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Updated April 28, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

surgical instruments image

One of Many Surgical Instruments Used During Surgical Procedures

Photo © Paul Tearle/Getty Images
Definition: An elective surgical procedure is a surgery that a patient chooses to have, rather than being required to save or prolong the patient's life.

An elective procedure is typically scheduled in advance, and may be a health benefit to the patient, but is not emergent. Unlike an emergency surgical procedure, an elective procedure can typically be postponed without harm.

For example, a knee replacement is an elective surgery. The patient will benefit from the surgery because they are able to walk with less pain, but there is no emergency associated with the joint replacement. It can be scheduled at the patient's convenience without causing harm.

Examples:
The elective procedure was scheduled several months in advance to accommodate the patient's busy schedule.
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