Q: When coding excision of a breast mass with needle localization using stereotactic guidance, we report CPT ® code 19125 (excision of breast lesion identified by preoperative placement of radiological marker, open; single lesion) and new code 19283 (placement of breast localization devices, percutaneous; first lesion, including stereotactic guidance). The 3M system says Medicare NCCI edits consider this separate reporting of codes that are components of the comprehensive procedure if billed for services provided to the same beneficiary by the same physician on the same day. These codes will be rebundled by the Medicare payer and payment will be based on code 19125 only. Does that mean to only report 19125 for this kind of case? If there is an excision of a lesion by one surgeon and needle localization done by a radiologist, can we report 19125, with 19283 and modifier -59 (distinct procedural service)? We can’t find any official reference for this issue for 2014. How do we code excision of a breast mass with needle localization now?
Q: I am auditing a note for a fusion. The note lacks detail, therefore is hard to justify. The patient had a prior hardware placement. The note describes dissecting down, debridement of necrotic bone, and tissue work done. This is the entire note, after describing dissection, “Vigorous irrigation with 10 liters of saline and antibiotics was carried out. Hemostasis was maintained. The right S1 screw and rod portion was removed as it was notably loose. Additional decortication and onlay bone grafting was performed at L1-S1. Drains were placed…” They coded: 22612 (arthrodesis, posterior or posterolateral technique, single level; lumbar) Add-on code 22614 (each additional vertebral segment) x4 22852 (removal of posterior segmental instrumentation) In the procedures performed area of the note, they state: Hardware removal, lumbar Revision fusion L1-S1 with onlay bone graft Irrigation and debridement of lumbar spine wound Since there is nothing in the note regarding autografting, I assume this is an allograft? Should this be coded? Also is that documentation enough to justify arthrodesis? Modifier -GC (this service has been performed in part by a resident under the direction of a teaching physician) was appended, although the language was not added for this. I can only assume a resident dictated this.
Q: I have a question regarding CPT® code 22558 (arthrodesis, anterior interbody technique, including minimal discectomy to prepare interspace; lumbar). I perform this exposure as a vascular surgeon, with the orthopedic surgeon preforming the spinal surgery. If I perform an anterior exposure for a spine deformity using code 22808 (arthrodesis, anterior, for spinal deformity, with or without cast; two to three vertebral segments), do I bill 22558 for the exposure?
Q: I am looking for information about to how to bill for a transnasal-endoscope approach in removing a skull-base tumor. I have never been comfortable with the doctors wanting to use CPT ® 61600 (resection or excision of neoplastic, vascular or infectious lesion of base of anterior cranial fossa; extradural) to bill a non-invasive procedure. I am perplexed about which CPT code(s) to report for this type of procedure.
Q: A patient presents with lower back pain and the physician documents findings of stenosis, degenerative “changes,” and mild facet arthropathy. Which diagnosis codes should we report? I would code 724.02 (stenosis, lumbar region, without neurogenic claudication) and 721.3 (lumbosacral spondylosis without myelopathy) for the facet degeneration. Another coder has stated that I cannot code 724.02, as the 721.3 diagnosis code will exclude the use of 724.02. Can you help with this scenario?
Q: When we send in a claim for CPT ® code 29898 (arthroscopy, ankle, surgical; debridement, extensive) to Aetna with modifier –AS (non-physician assisting at surgery) for our physician’s assistant, Aetna will deny the claim saying “assistant not covered.” However, that procedure code says it is covered for an assistant surgeon. I have sent appeal after appeal and printouts from the American College of Surgeon’s (ACOS) Coding Today website showing this procedure code is payable to Aetna, and Aetna still denies the claim. Medicare pays on this claim, why wouldn’t Aetna?
Q: How does CPT ® define "final examination" for code 99238 (hospital discharge day management; 30 minutes or less)? Does the dictation have to include an actual detailed examination of the patient? We have been coding 99238 for discharges that include final diagnosis, history of present illness, and hospital course along with discharge labs, medicines, and home instructions. Very few contain an actual exam of the patient. Have we been miscoding all this time?
Q: When a procedure is performed by laparoscopy, but only a code for the open approach is listed, do you use the unlisted procedure code? For example, the physician documented: laparoscopic pyloromyotomy, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. We used CPT ® code 43520-22 (pyloromyotomy, cutting of pyloric muscle, Fredet-Ramstedt type operation, with the increased procedural services modifier) but the coding department corrected with 43659 (unlisted laparoscopy procedure, stomach). We are a pediatric surgical practice. I feel because the procedures are very common and performed often, our revenue will drop by using unidentified procedure codes, but I want to code them correctly.
Q: We recently had a situation where a patient had come in to have his port re-assessed. He had been complaining of the port being difficult to access. Preliminary x-ray showed the port accessed, with great blood return. Patient has an allergy to IV contrast, so we just flushed the port, and did not give the contrast. The port remained accessed. How do we code this? Do we use 36598 (contrast injection[s] for radiologic evaluation of existing central venous access device, including fluoroscopy, image documentation and report) with a modifier -52 (reduced services)? The other option is a modifier -73 (discontinued outpatient procedure prior to anesthesia administration) or -74 (discontinued outpatient procedure after anesthesia administration). However we have no documentation regarding anesthesia, and I'm not sure the patient would even get anesthesia for a procedure such as this.