Coding Tip of the Week– ICD-10 Coding of Cervical Disc Disorders
There are many different ICD-10 codes to choose from when coding cervical disc disorders. For purposes of this post, we will only focus on the M50 series in general, and not the specifics of each subcategory.
If you look in the ICD-10 book at the M50 series, you will see a note. The note states “Code to the most superior level of disorder.” This sounds plain and simple, but you’d be surprised how many times cervical disc disorders are coded incorrectly because coders do not take this note into consideration. The note is giving the coder specific instructions to only code the cervical disc disorder at the highest level that it’s located, even if it is present at other levels.
For example, if you’re reading a report, and it states that a cervical disc disorder with myelopathy is located at the C4-C5 level, you would code M50.021. The report might state that the patient also has a disc disorder with myelopathy at the C5-C6 level as well, which codes to M50.022. This is where the importance of the note comes in. Since the note is telling us to only code to the most superior level of the disorder—only M50.021 should be coded.
So, don’t be kept in the dark about these codes. Always go to the tabular and read everything listed under each category.
-Lindsay Della Vella, COC