Anyone Looking for an Eponym?

Becky Buegel, RHIA, CDIP, CHP Medical Coding Leave a Comment

Anyone Looking for an Eponym?

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:

Parkinson’s disease

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Homan’s sign

McBurney’s point

Roux-en-Y anastomosis

Metzenbaum scissors

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

Nissen fundoplication

Hartmann’s operation

Whipple procedure

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.

DISEASE EPONYMS

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

PROCEDURAL EPONYMS

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).

PROCEDURE

NAMED FOR

DESCRIPTION

PROBABLE ICD-10-PCS CODE*

Bankart operation/repair

Arthur Bankart

Reattachment of glenoid labrum, R shoulder, open

0LM10ZZ

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

0DX60Z5

Lisfranc’s amputation

Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin

Partial amputation (detachment) of right foot through the tarsometatarsal joint – open, complete

0Y6M0Z0

Mayo repair

 

Repair of umbilical hernia – open, with synthetic patch

0WUF0JZ

Roux-en-Y anastomosis

César Roux

Gastric bypass – stomach to duodenum, no device – open

0D180Z9

Syme’s amputation

James Syme

Detachment of L foot at ankle with removal of malleolus – open

0Y6N0Z0

*   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.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_eponymous_diseases

https://m.valuemd.com/internal-medicine-forum/126845-nadir-sepsis.html \

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35065322/

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