ICD-10 codes for GERD

Touseef Riaz

August 24, 2021

icd 10 code for gerd

GERD is short for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease which occurs when stomach acids flow back from the stomach into the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to the stomach. This acid reflux has a knack for irritating the lining of the esophagus.

GERD is a fairly common condition that many people experience from time to time. The condition ranges from mild acid reflux to moderate and severe acid reflux (more on this later). GERD is not a life-threatening condition and is often managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.

This article describes the different stages of GERD, the symptoms that are used by physicians to identify and then code the corresponding GERD ICD 10 code for medical billing services and reimbursement purposes.

GERD ICD-10 Codes and Guidelines

Corresponding codes for GERD can be found in Chapter 11 (Diseases of the digestive system) of the ICD-10-CM manual and falls in the range from K00 to K95. The different stages are assigned separate codes such as chronic GERD ICD 10, suspected GERD, and severe GERD ICD 10.

It is also important to be aware of the alternate terms that are used to describe GERD while coding. These can include:

  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Acid reflux
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux
  • Reflux
  • Acid backflow
  • Gastric reflux
  • Cardio esophageal relaxation

The table below includes the most used GERD ICD-10 codes:

GERD ICD 10 Codes Description
K21.9 GERD
K21.00 GERD With esophagitis without bleeding
K21.01 GERD With esophagitis with bleeding
P78.83 Neonatal esophageal reflux

The Four Stages of GERD

Diagnosing GERD and then the subsequent treatment is dependent upon an individual’s GERD stage. Due to the fact that reflux disease is a progressive condition, the stage is determined by the severity of reflux of the esophagus. The more severe the reflux is, the more frequent and longer the acid reflux episodes are which in turn signifies the damage to the esophagus.

Stage 1

Stage 1 describes the mild GERD cases where mild symptoms are observed once or twice a month. Stage 1 GERD can be treated with changes in lifestyle and suppressive medication.

Stage 2

The moderate GERD cases are classified under stage 2, where symptoms are observed more frequently and hence daily medication may be prescribed.

Stage 3

Patients with severe GERD have poorly controlled symptoms on prescription medications. Their quality of life is substantially lower.

Stage 4

Reflux-induced precancerous lesions or esophageal cancer is the last stage of GERD which results from years of untreated severe reflux. This is often attributed to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus and can lead to cancer if left untreated.

Causes and Symptoms of GERD

Frequent acid reflux is the major cause of GERD. The stomach acid flows back into the esophagus when the sphincter (a band of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that allows liquid and food to flow into your stomach), acts abnormally and gets weak. The constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.

Common symptoms and signs of GERD include:

  •  A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

ICD 10 Code Set

ICD-10 (short for International Classification of Diseases, tenth edition) is a clinical documentation and cataloging system owned by the World Health organization which consists of thousands of codes, where each code represents critical information about the different diseases, findings, causes of injuries, symptoms, possible treatments, and epidemiology, playing a vital role in enabling advancements in clinical treatment and medication.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it is required by all healthcare providers and physicians to apply the ICD-10 codes in their practices, replacing the previous ICD-9 code set.

ICD serves as a foundation to identify clinical trends and statistics globally. Diseases, injuries, disorders, and all health conditions are listed comprehensively and organized into standard groupings allowing health care providers from around the world to compare and share information using the ICD codes.

History of GERD ICD 10

  • FY 2021 – No Change, effective from 10/1/2020 through 9/30/2021
  • FY 2020 – No Change, effective from 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020
  • FY 2019 – No Change, effective from 10/1/2018 through 9/30/2019
  • FY 2018 – No Change, effective from 10/1/2017 through 9/30/2018
  • FY 2017 – No Change, effective from 10/1/2016 through 9/30/2017
  • FY 2016 – New Code, effective from 10/1/2015 through 9/30/2016 (The first year ICD-10-CM implemented into the HIPAA code set)

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