Sickle-cell Vaso-occlusive Disease

Sickle-cell Vaso-occlusive Disease

By Lynn Kuehn, MS, RHIA, CCS-P, FAHIMA

If you’ve ever tried to code an admission for a patient admitted with sickle-cell pain but no one documented it as vaso-occlusive pain, and there was no answer to your query, you are finally in luck!

The code titles and index entries for this condition are changing for FY2024 to put the term “vaso-occlusive” in parentheses as a non-essential modifier. That means it will no longer be required in the diagnostic statement to allow code assignment as being “in crisis.”

The first time you run across this problem after October 1, 2023, give thanks that Kay Piper, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, and the ACDIS Regulatory Committee team had your back. They requested this change to the CDC on behalf of all of us. Thanks, Kay and team!

There is another helpful addition to the ICD-10-CM code set for sickle-cell dactylitis. This is a specific type of vaso-occlusive pain crisis in which the sickled red blood cells block the blood flow in the fingers and/or toes. This causes swelling, redness and extreme pain. This can happen to someone of any age, but when it occurs in infants or toddlers that are non-verbal, the swelling and redness may be the first clue that the patient is in crisis or even that they have sickle-cell disease. A code for sickle-cell dactylitis has been added to the subcategories for each type of sickle-cell disease for use with discharges occurring October 1, 2023 and later.

Just a reminder: Is there something in one of the code sets, or missing from one of them, that just bugs you? Wish it could be fixed? Be brave and suggest a change or addition. Many of the most useful changes to the code sets occur as a result of requests from users.

– Requests about ICD-10-CM issues can be directed to [email protected] at the CDC.
– Requests about ICD-10-PCS issues can be directed to, the automated system used by CMS.


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