Just about anyone who’s taken medical terminology recognizes the term “eponym”. The Merriam Webster dictionary, along with the Wikipedia website have the same definition for the word “eponym”. Roughly paraphrased, an eponym puts the name on a place, thing, discovery, or invention of the person who is believed/thought to have “discovered” it. Being awarded an eponym in Western science or medicine is considered an honor, inspiring the phrase, “eponymity not anonymity.”
Eponyms aren’t limited to just the medical world. There are many organizations and companies that use eponyms. Examples of eponyms that aren’t healthcare related: Disneyland – named for Walt Disney, the record album titled “The Door” by The Doors (a band for those who are too young to know), and even Oscar Mayer (hotdogs).
The medical world really seems to appreciate eponyms and uses them often to identify diseases, disorders, conditions, syndromes, medical equipment, medical signs, and procedures. According to the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (10 ed.), there is a website devoted to medical eponyms that lists more than 7000 of them! In most instances, they’re named after the physician or healthcare professional who first identified the disease or described the medical sign, created/developed the equipment, or performed the procedure (etc.). Examples include:
Though not as common as what is described above, there are diseases, syndromes, disorders, etc. named after patients who were diagnosed with a specific diseases. A prime example would be Lou Gehrig’s disease, properly know as ALS (G12.21). A perhaps surprising example is salmonellosis (A02.0) which was named after Daniel Elmer Salmon, a veterinary pathologist who was in charge of a research program run by the USDA in the late 1800s. The researcher who actually isolated/discovered the bacterium, and his colleagues decided to name it after their boss, Dr. Salmon, D.V.M. Eponyms have even been named after fictional characters who exhibited signs of a disease, syndrome (etc.). Example: Miss Havisham syndrome (R46.89), named after a character in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Diseases that are named after a particular occupation or trade are not technically considered eponyms. Examples include: nun’s knees (M70.40); nursemaid’s elbow (S53.033); and tennis elbow (M77.10).
Strictly speaking, there are surgical procedure eponyms, too. Included in this list would be names of procedures most coders would easily recognize:
Tommy John surgery
However, when ICD-10-PCS was created, a decision was made against using eponyms. Coders will find no eponyms listed in the ICD-10-PCS Alphabetic Index nor in the procedure tables themselves. Interestingly, this writer had personal experience using the 3M encoder while writing this blog, and noted that the 3M encoder DOES allow coders to use eponyms as key words when looking up procedure codes. Nice as this may be, coders are strenuously reminded that they are responsible for the proper assignment of PCS codes based on information documented in the individual patient’s operative report, not just the eponym documented by the surgeon.
The use of medical eponyms is seemingly changing as advances in medicine prove that some eponyms are imprecise or are misleading. Eponyms attributed to discoveries made by Nazi German scientists have, understandably, fallen out of favor, as atrocities committed in the “name of science” are linked to the Holocaust.
As interesting as eponyms may be, they don’t always provide enough useful information to allow the coder to know what disease or procedure is to be coded, so knowing the technical terms that are represented by eponyms is important.
For examples of eponyms, please see the attached charts.
|EPONYM||NAMED FOR||DESCRIPTION||ICD-10-CM CODE|
|Addison’s disease||Thomas Addison||Primary adrenocortical insufficiency||E27.1|
|Barlow syndrome||John Barlow||Ascorbic acid deficiency||E54|
|Christmas disease||Stephen Christmas||Hereditary factor IX deficiency||D67|
|Di George syndrome||Angelo DiGeorge||Immunodeficiency associated with other major defects||D82.1|
|Ekbom’s syndrome||Karl-Axle Ekbom||Restless legs||G25.81|
|Friedreich ataxia||Nicolaus Friedreich||Specific form of early-onset cerebellar ataxia||G11.11|
|Gilbert’s disease||Augustin N. Gilbert||Pityriasis rosea||L42|
|Hartnup’s disease||Hartnup family||Disorder of amino-acid transport||E72.02|
|Job’s syndrome||Biblical figure Job||Chronic granulomatous disease||D71|
|Krabbe’s disease||Knud H. Krabbe||Other sphingolipidosis||E75.23|
|Letterer-Siwe’s disease||Erich Letter & Sture Siwe||Multifocal and multisystemic Langerhans-cell histiocytosis||C96.0|
|Monge’s disease||Carlos Monge||Other effects of high altitude||T70.29|
|Noonan’s syndrome||Jacqueline Noonan||Other congenital malformation syndromes predominantly associated with short stature||Q87.19|
|Ormond’s disease||John K. Ormond||Retroperitoneal fibrosis||N13.5|
|Pompe’s disease||Johann C. Pompe||Glycogen storage disease||E74.02|
|Quincke’s edema||Heinrich Quincke||Angioneurotic edema||T78.3|
|Riedel thyroiditis||Bernhardt Riedel||Other chronic thyroiditis||E06.5|
|Sheehan syndrome||Harold L. Sheehan||Postpartum pituitary gland necrosis||O99.285|
|Takayasu’s disease||Mikito Takayasu||Aortic arch syndrome||M31.4|
|Unverricht disease||Heinrich Unverricht||Generalized idiopathic epilepsy and epileptic syndromes NOS||G40.309|
|Weil’s disease||Adolf Weil||Leptospirosis||A27.0|
|Zenker’s diverticulum||Friedrich A. von Zenker||Diverticulum of esophagus, acquired||K22.5|
THOUGH PHYSICIANS MAY (AND DO) STILL USE EPONYMS WHEN DOCUMENTING NAMES OF PROCEDURES (LIKE “TOMMY JOHN SURGERY”) ICD-10-PCS DOES NOT INCLUDE EPONYMS IN THE INDEX NOR IN THE PROCEDURAL TABLES THEMSELVES. ENCODERS MAY ALLOW CODERS TO SEARCH THE PCS CODES USING EPONYMS. USING THE 3M ENCODER, THIS AUTHOR WAS ABLE TO FIND PROCEDURE CODES USING EPONYMS IN THE SEARCH FIELD. HOWEVER, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL CODER TO MAKE CERTAIN THEY UNDERSTAND THE FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCEDURE BEING PERFORMED (WHETHER IDENTIFIED BY EPONYM OR NOT) AND TO SELECT THE PCS CODE THAT PROPERLY REFLECTS WHAT IS DOCUMENTED IN THE PROCEDURE REPORT. THE FOLLOWING CHART IS TO BE USED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND AGAIN, INDIVIDUAL CODERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING CERTAIN THEY SELECT THE PCS CODES BASED SOLELY ON THE INFORMATION DOCUMENTED IN THE SPECIFIC OPERATIVE REPORT(S).
PROBABLE ICD-10-PCS CODE*
|Bankart operation/repair||Arthur Bankart||Reattachment of glenoid labrum, R shoulder, open||
|Collis gastroplasty||John L. Collis||Esophageal lengthening – Moving, without taking out, all or a portion of a body part to another location to take over the function of all or a portion of a body part – open||
|Lisfranc’s amputation||Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin||Partial amputation (detachment) of right foot through the tarsometatarsal joint – open, complete||
|Mayo repair||Repair of umbilical hernia – open, with synthetic patch||
|Roux-en-Y anastomosis||César Roux||Gastric bypass – stomach to duodenum, no device – open||
|Syme’s amputation||James Syme||Detachment of L foot at ankle with removal of malleolus – open||
* The term “probable” is used for the ICD-10-PCS code since, for the purposes of this example chart, the is no available operative report to verify actual code assignment.