Health Information Management

Tip: Get to know the spinal column

APCs Insider, October 21, 2011

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Knowledge of spinal anatomy provides the foundation necessary to assign codes both before and after thetransition to ICD-10-CM.

The spine is essentially a stack of bones (known as vertebrae) that run down the posterior of the torso from the brainstem to the tailbone. The spinal column consists of five separate areas, based on location from the top of the spine to the bottom:

  • Cervical (C1–C7)
  • Thoracic (T1–T12)
  • Lumbar (L1–L5)
  • Sacral (S1–S5)
  • Coccyx (CX)

The first cervical vertebra (i.e., C1), is also called the atlas. The second cervical vertebra (i.e., C2) is also known as the axis.

The sacral vertebrae, or sacrum, begin as five separate bones at birth. They fuse into one bony section when individuals reach their mid 20s. When this occurs, the S1–S5 designation refers to the location on the single bone.

Similar to the sacrum, the coccyx also fuses into one bone as an individual ages; it begins as three to five individual bones at birth.

The tip is adapted from “ICD-10-CM anatomy refresher: Spine” in the October issue of  Briefings on APCs.



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