Innovative surgery raises four kinds of ethical challenges: potential harms to patients; compromised informed consent; unfair allocation of healthcare resources; and conflicts of interest. Lack of adequate data on innovations and lack of regulatory oversight contribute to these ethical challenges. In this paper these issues and the extent to which problems may be resolved by better evidence-gathering and more comprehensive regulation are explored. It is suggested that some ethical issues will be more resistant to resolution than others, owing to special features of both surgery and innovation.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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