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Radiology Coding Alert

Reader Question:

Decreased Breath Sounds? Consult Doctor

Question: Our radiologist documented a chest x-ray with the diagnosis "Decreased breath sounds." What ICD-9 Code should we report for this condition?

Minnesota Subscriber

Answer: You should ask the ordering physician whether 786.7 (Abnormal chest sounds) or 786.09 (Symptoms involving respiratory system and other chest syndromes; dyspnea and respiratory abnormalities; other) is appropriate, because ICD-9 does not include a specific code describing decreased breath sounds.
If the physician tells you that he heard shortness of breath (786.05) or apnea (786.03), you should report the ICD-9 code for that condition instead.

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