International Classification of Diseases,Tenth Revision (ICD-10)


The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of mortality statistics. This includes providing a format for reporting causes of death on the death certificate. The reported conditions are then translated into medical codes through use of the classification structure and the selection and modification rules contained in the applicable revision of the ICD, published by the World Health Organization (WHO). These coding rules improve the usefulness of mortality statistics by giving preference to certain categories, by consolidating conditions, and by systematically selecting a single cause of death from a reported sequence of conditions. The single selected cause for tabulation is called the underlying cause of death, and the other reported causes are the nonunderlying causes of death. The combination of underlying and nonunderlying causes is the multiple causes of death.

The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The Tenth Revision (ICD-10) differs from the Ninth Revision (ICD-9) in several ways although the overall content is similar: First, ICD-10 is printed in a three-volume set compared with ICD-9’s two-volume set. Second, ICD-10 has alphanumeric categories rather than numeric categories. Third, some chapters have been rearranged, some titles have changed, and conditions have been regrouped. Fourth, ICD-10 has almost twice as many categories as ICD-9. Fifth, some fairly minor changes have been made in the coding rules for mortality.

There is related information, including links to an online version of ICD-10, at the World Health Organization’s site.

Both hardcopy and electronic versions of the three-volume set of ICD-10 are available. The contact in the U.S. is:

Order & Customer Service
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20175-0605
Phone:706.661.1581 or 800.232.0223
Fax: 703.661.1501

The ICD-10 consists of:

  • tabular lists containing cause-of-death titles and codes
    (Volume 1);
  • inclusion and exclusion terms for cause-of-death titles
    (Volume 1);
  • an alphabetical index to diseases and nature of injury, external causes of injury, table of drugs and chemicals (Volume 3), and
  • description, guidelines, and coding rules (Volume 2).

The process of converting from ICD-9 to ICD-10 affects many aspects of the mortality data system including revision of instruction manuals, medical software, and analyses. The most detailed listing of underlying causes of death used in the United States, the Each Cause List (ICD-10), is available on the CDC/FTP server.

Related documents

As of October 1, 2015, a related classification, International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM), has replaced ICD-9-CM, Volumes 1 and 2 (diagnosis).