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An eponym is defined as the person for whom something is named. In the world of Western science and medicine, eponyms are commonly used to name everything from conditions, drugs, and devices to procedures and techniques.

This is a relic from the past, when medicine lacked tools to investigate underlying causes of various conditions and syndromes. The eponym simply offered a convenient way to label a disease to promote further discussion and research. Eponymous surgical procedures typically are named after the surgeon or surgeons who performed or reported them first, popularized them, or refined the technique. On rare occasion, surgical eponyms have been used to reflect the patient who first underwent the procedure.

The ICD-9-CM Alphabetical Index for both diagnoses and procedures contains numerous examples of eponyms, and this is still true for ICD-10-CM, but not for ICD-10-PCS. In fact, all traces of surgical eponyms have been removed from ICD-10-PCS. In their place are root terms that describe the objective of each procedure performed. So in other words, you now will need to know the actual objective of the procedure, as well as the extent and technique being used to accomplish it, in order to assign procedure code(s). If you are still not convinced that the end of the surgical eponym is newsworthy, maybe an example will help in making the point.


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