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Gastroenterology Coding Alert

Reader Questions:

Symptoms Apply as Primary Diagnosis for "Bacterial

Question: A patient presents with "bacterial overgrowth -- small intestine." Which ICD-9 code should I report? Utah Subscriber Answer: If you have no other more specific symptoms, you should code the patient's symptoms. Look for the presenting symptoms in the patient's history and select ICD-9 codes for her complaints. Tip: Overgrowth does not necessarily mean infection. Gastroenterologists associate bacterial overgrowth in the bowel with gastrointestinal symptoms of bloating (787.3, Flatulence eructation and gas pain), pain (789.0, Abdominal pain), or irregular stool patterns, such as 564.0 (Constipation) and 564.1 (Irritable bowel syndrome).

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