The accuracy of discharge diagnosis coding for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in a large teaching hospital

  • Federica Edith PisaEmail author
  • Lorenzo Verriello
  • Laura Deroma
  • Daniela Drigo
  • Paolo Bergonzi
  • Gian Luigi Gigli
  • Fabio Barbone


To evaluate the accuracy of hospital discharge data as a source of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) cases for epidemiological studies or disease registries, a validation study was performed. All records of patients discharged in 2005 and 2006 with principal or secondary International Classification of Diseases, 9th rev., Clinical Modification (ICD 9 CM) diagnosis code of ALS (335.20), other anterior horn cell disease (335), spinal cord disease (336), hereditary and idiopathic peripheral neuropathy (356), inflammatory and toxic neuropathy (357), myoneural disorders (358), muscular dystrophies and myopathies (359), were selected from the electronic archive of discharge data of the University Hospital of Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, North East Italy. Corresponding clinical documentation was reviewed to ascertain the presence of El Escorial criteria, the gold standard. Sensitivity of the ICD 9 CM discharge code 335.20 was 93% (95%CI: 82–99%) and decreased to 91% (95%CI: 77–98%) when suspect ALS was excluded. Specificity was 99% (95%CI: 97–99%). The ICD 9 CM discharge code 335.20 can identify a high percentage of hospitalizations of patients truly affected by ALS and of patients with no ALS, among selected neurological diagnostic codes. To ensure complete ALS case ascertainment, prospective population-based registries or epidemiologic studies require active prospective surveillance and use of multiple sources, among them hospital discharge archives can provide accurate information.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Disease registries Hospital morbidity data Incidence Sensitivity Specificity 



Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


International Classification of Diseases, 9th rev., Clinical Modification



The authors would like to express their thanks to Mrs. Laura Largajolli Toffolutti and to Italian Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (AISLA) for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federica Edith Pisa
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lorenzo Verriello
    • 2
    • 3
  • Laura Deroma
    • 1
  • Daniela Drigo
    • 1
  • Paolo Bergonzi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gian Luigi Gigli
    • 2
    • 3
  • Fabio Barbone
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, DPMSCAzienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di UdineUdineItaly
  2. 2.University Hospital of UdineUdineItaly
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity of UdineUdineItaly

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