Here Comes Santa ‘Jaws’! Taste Success With This Tongue and Mouth Floor Coding Quiz

Santa Jaws

Need a break from the holiday madness? There’s nothing more relaxing than an anatomy quiz. Or if that’s not your flavor of fun, consider this a way to rev up for more accurate coding in 2018!

The quiz below was inspired by an article in Otolaryngology Coding Alert, the newsletter included in Otolaryngology Coder. Get ready to sharpen your anatomy skills for coding incision and drainage (I&D) involving the tongue or floor of the mouth.

Focus on Anatomy Differences in This Code Family

The code descriptors for 41000-41009 all begin with this wording: Intraoral incision and drainage of abscess, cyst, or hematoma of tongue or floor of mouth …

The end of each descriptor designates the specific anatomic location the code applies to:

A. 41000, … lingual

B. 41005, … sublingual, superficial

C. 41006, … sublingual, deep, supramylohyoid

D. 41007, … submental space

E. 41008, … submandibular space

F. 41009, … masticator space.

For the quiz, choose the letter next to the code above that you’d use when documentation shows intraoral I&D of an abscess, cyst, or hematoma in this location:

  1. The area under the tongue, deep
  2. The area below the lower jaw, corresponding with the submandibular gland’s location
  3. The tongue, including any posterior element of the tongue
  4. The area where the masticator muscles correspond with the ramus of the lower jaw bone
  5. The area under the tongue, on the outside of the mouth floor (not deep)
  6. The area underneath the chin, midline between the superior mylohyoid muscle and the inferior platysma muscle

Check Your Answers Here When You’re Ready

  1. C. The area below the tongue is the sublingual area. “Sub” means below, and “lingual” refers to something related to the tongue. When choosing the correct code for sublingual I&D, note that 41005 is specific to superficial tissues, while 41006 specifies “deep, supramylohyoid.”
  2. E. Just as the prefix “sub” is helpful in understanding “sublingual,” it also helps you understand the term “submandibular.” The mandible is the lower jaw or jawbone, so submandibular means the area below the lower jaw.
  3. A. As we’ve already covered, “lingual” means tongue. Keep in mind that lingual refers to all aspects of the tongue. The underside of the tongue and the posterior parts of the tongue are still the tongue.
  4. F. If you need help recalling what a masticator space is, remember that mastication is chewing. Bonus tip: The definition above also refers to the ramus of the lower jaw bone, which is the back, vertical part of the jaw. The skull has a ramus on each side.
  5. B. If you read Answer #1, you know the drill!
  6. D. The chin is sometimes called the mental region, so submental means under the chin. Experts advise that understanding the submental area is easier if you remember to distinguish it from the sublingual, submandibular, and masticator spaces.

What About You?

How did you do? Did you learn anatomy at school or on the job? Do you find that the anatomic terms providers use line up with the terms used in code descriptors?


Deborah concentrates on coding and compliance for radiology and cardiology, including the tricky world of interventional procedures, as well as oncology and hematology. Since joining The Coding Institute in 2004, she’s also covered the ins and outs of coding for orthopedics, audiology, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and more.

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