Health Information Management


JustCoding News: Inpatient, March 17, 2010

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Quinsy, also known as peritonsillar abscess, is an infection that begins in the tonsil region and typically affects one of the two tonsils. Quinsy is a recognized complication of tonsillitis, and consists of a collection of pus beside a tonsil (peritonsillar space). Quinsy is more serious than tonsillitis with potentially devastating or fatal consequences if it spreads to the surrounding structures.

Unlike tonsillitis, which more commonly affects the pediatric age group, quinsy can affect children and adults. Relative to tonsillitis and sore throat, however, quinsy is uncommon. Quinsy usually has a bacterial cause, such as streptococcus or staphylococcus, although other bacteria have been implicated.

Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms start to appear two to eight days before abscess formation. A progressively worsening unilateral sore throat and pain swallowing usually show up first. Other symptoms of quinsy include:

  • Chills
  • Difficulty/pain opening the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Hoarseness (occasionally)
  • Sore throat (potentially severe)
  • Tender glands of the jaw and throat

A physician may render treatment through a surgical incision and drainage of the pus, to relieve the pain of the pressed tissues. Commonly, a physician performs a needle aspiration then administers antibiotics to treat the infection.

Documentation and coding

ICD-9-CM coding

  • Peritonsillar abscess: code 475
    • Use additional code to identify the infectious agent

ICD-10-CM coding

  • Peritonsillar abscess: code J36
    • Use additional code to identify infectious agent (B95-B97)

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