Radiology CCI Edits

on Monday, 03 November 2014. All News Items | Outpatient Services | Coding | Billing

Not So Fun

I enjoy what I do. For some weird reason, I like to read and do my best to interpret the Medicare regulations. I hope my efforts make it easier for hospitals to receive the appropriate reimbursement for the healthcare services they provide by helping them to follow Medicare’s documentation, coding and billing requirements. But unfortunately, the news I share is not always the best news or even fun. So before I get into the “not so fun” part of this article, I want to acknowledge National Radiologic Technology Week.

As in many areas of healthcare, radiology includes many different types of services, such as plain x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic imaging resonance (MRI), ultrasound, nuclear medicine, interventional radiology, radiation oncology, and others. Radiologic technologists provide a valuable contribution to healthcare. How many times over the past year have you, your family or friends received radiologic services? How would your care have been affected without this technology? Within my own circle of family and friends – an x-ray for a broken wrist, annual mammogram, Dexa scan, MRI for spinal stenosis, and CT to rule out a pulmonary embolism. So thanks to all our radiology friends!

A few weeks ago an article reviewed some of the National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) guidance for respiratory services for their recognition week. Continuing that theme for National Radiology Week, let’s look at some of the NCCI instructions that apply to Medicare coding and billing for radiology services.

A recent NCCI edit (July 2014) bundled spinal myelography procedures (72240-72270) into procedures for CT neck, chest and lumbar studies (72125-72133). The code pairs may be reported together with the appropriate modifier when warranted. If both tests are medically necessary, distinctly ordered, and there is a separate interpretation for each procedure, then it is appropriate to append modifier 59 to the CT of the spine with contrast code to identify that it is a separate and distinct procedure. (CPT Assistant September 2014)

The following are selected excerpts from the Radiology chapter of the NCCI manual. For complete information regarding these topics and other radiologic issues, please see Chapter IX of the NCCI Policy Manual found in the downloads section of the Medicare NCCI Website.

  • CPT code descriptors that specify a minimum number of views include additional views if there is no more comprehensive code specifically including the additional views.
  • CPT Manual instructions state that in the presence of a clinical history suggesting urinary tract pathology complete ultrasound evaluation of the kidneys and urinary bladder constitutes a complete retroperitoneal ultrasound study (CPT code 76770). A limited retroperitoneal ultrasound (CPT code 76775) plus limited pelvic ultrasound (CPT code 76857) should not be reported in lieu of the complete retroperitoneal ultrasound (CPT code 76770).
  • When a central venous catheter is inserted, a chest radiologic examination is usually performed to confirm the position of the catheter and absence of pneumothorax. Similarly when an emergency endotracheal intubation procedure (CPT code 31500), chest tube insertion procedure (e.g., CPT codes 32550, 32551, 32554, 32555), or insertion of a central flow directed catheter procedure (e.g., Swan Ganz)(CPT code 93503) is performed, a chest radiologic examination is usually performed to confirm the location and proper positioning of the tube or catheter. The chest radiologic examination is integral to the procedures, and a chest radiologic examination (e.g., CPT codes 71010, 71020) should not be reported separately.
  • CPT code 75635 describes computed tomographic angiography of the abdominal aorta and bilateral iliofemoral lower extremity runoff. This code includes the services described by CPT codes 73706 (computed tomographic angiography, lower extremity...) and 74175 (computed tomographic angiography, abdomen...). CPT codes 73706 and 74175 should not be reported with CPT code 75635 for the same patient encounter. CPT code 73706 plus CPT code 74175 should not be reported in lieu of CPT code 75635.
  • Diagnostic angiography (arteriogram/venogram) performed on the same date of service by the same provider as a percutaneous intravascular interventional procedure should be reported with modifier 59. If a diagnostic angiogram (fluoroscopic or computed tomographic) was performed prior to the date of the percutaneous intravascular interventional procedure, a second diagnostic angiogram cannot be reported on the date of the percutaneous intravascular interventional procedure unless it is medically reasonable and necessary to repeat the study to further define the anatomy and pathology. Report the repeat angiogram with modifier 59.
  • Fluoroscopy reported as CPT codes 76000 or 76001 is integral to many procedures including, but not limited, to most spinal, endoscopic, and injection procedures and should not be reported separately. For some of these procedures, there are separate fluoroscopic guidance codes which may be reported separately.
  • Computed tomography (CT) and computed tomographic angiography (CTA) procedures for the same anatomic location may be reported together in limited circumstances. If a single technical study is performed which is utilized to generate images for separate CT and CTA reports, only one procedure, either the CT or CTA, for the anatomic region may be reported. Both a CT and CTA may be reported for the same anatomic region if they are performed at separate patient encounters or if two separate and distinct technical studies, one for the CT and one for the CTA, are performed at the same patient encounter. The medical necessity for the latter situation is uncommon.
  • If a breast biopsy, needle localization wire, metallic localization clip, or other breast procedure is performed with mammographic guidance (e.g., 19281,19282), the physician should not separately report a post procedure mammography code (e.g., 77051, 77052, 77055-77057, G0202-G0206) for the same patient encounter. The radiologic guidance codes include all imaging by the defined modality required to perform the procedure.
  • CPT codes 76942, 77002, 77003, 77012, and 77021 describe radiologic guidance for needle placement by different modalities. CMS payment policy allows one unit of service for any of these codes at a single patient encounter regardless of the number of needle placements performed. The unit of service for these codes is the patient encounter, not number of lesions, number of aspirations, number of biopsies, number of injections, or number of localizations.
  • The code descriptor for CPT code 77417 states “Therapeutic radiology port film(s)”. The MUE value for this code is one (1) since it includes all port films.
  • An MRI study of the brain (CPT codes 70551-70553) and MRI study of the orbit (CPT codes 70540-70543) are separately reportable only if they are both medically reasonable and necessary and are performed as distinct studies. An MRI of the orbit is not separately reportable with an MRI of the brain if an incidental abnormality of the orbit is identified during an MRI of the brain since only one MRI study is performed.

There are more rules on coding and reporting radiology services on a claim than there are slices of a CT scan. And that is not so fun!

Article by Debbie Rubio

Debbie Rubio, BS, MT (ASCP), is the Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Debbie has over twenty-seven years of experience in healthcare including nine years as the Clinical Compliance Coordinator at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Debbie monitors, interprets and communicates current and upcoming regulatory and compliance issues as they relate to specific entities concerning Medicare and other payers. You may contact Debbie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information. MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

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