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Radiology Coding Alert

Reader Question:

Suspected Foreign Body: V Code

Question: One of our radiologists sent me an x-ray report for a 21-month-old child. The report read, "X-ray performed due to suspicion that the child swallowed something. No foreign body was found. Normal chest x-ray." Should I report 938 as the diagnosis code?

Tennessee Subscriber Answer: No. According to ICD-9, 938 describes "Foreign body in digestive system, unspecified." This code would only apply if the physician discovered a swallowed foreign body. Because your x-ray was normal, you should report V71.89 (Observation for other specified suspected conditions) instead. And you may code any signs and/or symptoms that were present such as stridor, cough and difficulty breathing.

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