Emergency surgery is non-elective surgery performed when the patient's life or well-being is in direct jeopardy. Largely performed by surgeons specializing in emergency medicine, this surgery can be conducted for many reasons but occurs most often in urgent or critical cases in response to trauma, cardiac events, poison episodes, brain injuries, and pediatric medicine.
Most surgery is elective and is performed after a diagnosis based upon a history and physical of the patient, with differential test results and the development of strategies for management of the condition. With emergency surgery, the team, as well as the surgeon, may have less information about the patient than would ordinarily be required and work under very time-dependent conditions to save a patient's life, help avoid critical injury or systemic deterioration of the patient, or to alleviate severe pain. Because of the unique conditions for urgent acute surgery, operations are usually performed by a surgical team specially trained for management of a critical, or life threatening event.