Basic Body System Terms Used in Medical Coding/Billing

Each vocation has its own specific terms which are widely used and medical coders and billers are no exception. A body system is a group of organs that perform a specific task. For example, the nervous system includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves.

Information about body systems matters to you because coding books are structured according to the body systems. The books that you’ll use are known as CPT books, which, for the most part, contain all the procedural codes you can bill.

These books contain the procedures as defined by the American Medical Association (AMA), and they’re updated each year; some codes are added, and some are deleted. The new codes usually become effective on January 1. So make sure that you always use the most current edition!

Here is listed the major body systems you’ll likely encounter on the job (and in your CPT books in the section devoted to that system).

System Organs Involved
Cardiovascular Blood vessels, heart, and lymph system
Digestive Structures inside the mouth, stomach, and colon, all the way down to the rectum
Endocrine Thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands
Eye and ocular adnexa and auditory Eyes and ears
Female genital (see note) Ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and external genitalia
Integument Skin and nails
Male genital (see note) Penis, prostate, testes
Musculoskeletal Connective tissue, muscles, ligaments, and bones
Nervous Brain, spinal cord, and nerves
Respiratory Airway and lungs
Urinary (see note) Kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra

In some reference books, the male and female genital systems are combined with the urinary system and referred to as the genito-urinary system.

After you identify the correct system code from the CPT, your next step is to find the supporting diagnosis codes for the procedures. You can find these in the ICD-9 book (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition). Lucky for you, the ICD-9 book also categorizes diagnosis codes by body system (in addition to other sections that contain codes for illness and other non-specific codes).

In October 2014, the United States will start reporting disease and injury using ICD-10 codes.

After you’re familiar with the basic body systems, it’s time to think about what can go wrong with them. When a system is not functioning properly, an illness or disease process is at work.

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