Validity of international classification of disease codes to identify ischemic stroke and intracranial hemorrhage among individuals with associated diagnosis of atrial fibrillation

Academic Article


  • Background: Because of its association with death and disability, stroke is a focus of outcomes in atrial fibrillation (AF) research. International Classification of Disease-Ninth Revision (ICD-9) edition codes are commonly used to identify stroke in research, particularly in large administrative data. We sought to assess the validity of ICD-9 codes in stroke case ascertainment and for AF across 3 institutions. Methods and Results: Participating centers included Boston Medical Center (safety net hospital), Geisinger Health System (rural Pennsylvania), and the University of Alabama (academic center in the southeastern stroke belt). ICD-9 codes for ischemic stroke (433-434, 436) and intracranial hemorrhage (430-432) identified 1812 stroke cases with an associated code for AF (427.31) from 2006 to 2010. Cases were vetted through chart review with final adjudication by a stroke neurologist. Review considered 94.2% of ICD-9 identified stroke cases valid with decreased accuracy for concurrent AF diagnosis (82.28%) and stroke attributable to AF (72.8%). Among events with "without infarction" modifiers, 7.2% were valid strokes. ICD-9 stroke code accuracy did not differ by stroke type or site. Stroke code 434 displayed higher accuracy than 433 (94.4% versus 85.2%; P<0.01), and primary stroke codes were more accurate than nonprimary codes (97.2% versus 83.7%; P<0.0001). Conclusions: Using ICD-9 stroke and AF codes to identify patients with stroke plus AF resulted in inaccuracies. Given the expanded financial and policy implications of patient-oriented research, conclusions derived solely from administrative data without validation of outcome events should be interpreted with caution.
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    Author List

  • Thigpen JL; Dillon C; Forster KB; Henault L; Quinn EK; Tripodis Y; Berger PB; Hylek EM; Limdi NA
  • Start Page

  • 8
  • End Page

  • 14
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 1