A: Compartment syndrome is one of those tricky diagnoses that make a coder’s life difficult. It can be both a diagnosis and a complication. If it is a complication or sequela of an injury, it is not coded. If it is an injury, it is coded. Here’s an example we use in the AIS Course:
A patient who develops a compartment syndrome from swelling related to a broken tibia has a complication, and in this case the comopartment syndrome is not coded. A patient whose arm gets trapped in a vacuum line and comes to the ED with marked swelling but no broken bones and is daignosed with compartment syndrome is coded.