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CPT and relative value changes that may affect reimbursement to your ObGyn practice

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Revisions to Category I and III codes for 2018


Another year brings changes to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes (which are developed and copyrighted by the American Medical Association) in the form of additions and revisions, and payments related to resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) revisions for selected services. As of January 1, 2018, 2 new Category I codes pertain to laparoscopic treatments for gynecologic cancer, and the 4 existing codes for colporrhaphy have been revised to include cystourethroscopy. New Category III codes include 4 for fetal magnetocardiography and 1 for transvaginal tactile imaging. Medicare also has reevaluated certain relative value units (RVUs) in outpatient and facility settings.

New and revised Category I codes

Laparoscopic treatments for gynecologic cancer. Technologic advances in performing laparoscopic procedures have allowed for more extensive laparoscopic surgery for various gynecologic cancers and, to this end, 2 new codes have been added.

First, a new code was added to capture comprehensive laparoscopic surgical staging for gynecologic cancer. This new code, 38573, Laparoscopy, surgical; with bilateral total pelvic lymphadenectomy and peri-aortic lymph node sampling, peritoneal washings, peritoneal biopsy(ies), omentectomy, and diaphragmatic washings, including diaphragmatic and other serosal biopsy(ies), when performed, may not be reported with any other code that includes lymphadenectomy, omentectomy, or hysterectomy. It is intended primarily for a stand-alone staging procedure after an initial biopsy shows a gynecologic malignancy such as ovarian cancer. This new code has been valued at 33.59 RVUs.

Second, a new code was added to capture laparoscopic debulking in conjunction with hysterectomy. The new code, 58575, Laparoscopy, surgical, total hysterectomy for resection of malignancy (tumor debulking), with omentectomy including salpingo-oophorectomy, unilateral or bilateral, when performed, has been valued at 53.62 RVUs. The open equivalent to this new code is 58953, Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy with omentectomy, total abdominal hysterectomy and radical dissection for debulking.

Cystourethroscopy. The revisions involve no longer permitting separate reporting of 52000, Cystourethroscopy (separate procedure), with the colporrhaphy codes 57240−57265. The rationale behind this change was that surgeons were routinely performing cystoscopy at the time of these procedures and therefore it should become part of the surgical procedure. Currently the Medicare National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) bundles 52000 with these 4 codes, but only code 57250 allows for the use of a modifier -59 to bypass the edit if the purpose of the cystoscopy was evaluation of a distinct complaint or problem (such as evaluating patient-expressed urinary symptoms prior to the surgery that were investigated at the time of the prolapse surgery). When codes 57240, 57260, or 57265 are billed along with 52000, the cystoscopy will be denied and a modifier -59 cannot be reported to bypass this edit.

New Category III codes

The new Category III codes represent emerging technology, and it is important to report them, rather than an unlisted code, if the procedures described are performed so that data can be collected for later consideration to make these Category I CPT codes. Since these codes are not assigned relative values, the provider will need to let the payer know which existing CPT Category I code most closely represents the work involved.

Fetal magnetocardiography. The new Category III codes for fetal magnetocardiography describe essentially a fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) that would be performed to assess fetal arrhythmias by placing up to 3 leads on the mother’s abdomen. Possible comparison codes for physician work might include 59050, fetal monitoring by consultant during labor; 93000−93010, 12-lead ECG, or 93040−93042, rhythm strip up to 3 leads. However, because the equipment is very expensive, these codes would not capture practice expense and the physician would have to negotiate a reasonable reimbursement level with the payer, if the magnetocardiography was a covered service. The new codes are as follows:

  • 0475T, Recording of fetal magnetic cardiac signal using at least 3 channels; patient recording and storage, data scanning with signal extraction, technical analysis and result, as well as supervision, review, and interpretation of report by a physician or other qualified health care professional
  • 0476T, Recording of fetal magnetic cardiac signal using at least 3 channels; patient recording, data scanning, with raw electronic signal transfer of data and storage
  • 0477T, Recording of fetal magnetic cardiac signal using at least 3 channels; signal extraction, technical analysis, and result.

Transvaginal tactile imaging. The new Category III code, 0487T, Biomechanical mapping, transvaginal, with report, describes the use of a pressure sensor probe inserted into the vaginal canal to measure and collect data on pelvic muscle strength, elasticity, tissue integrity, and tone. These data produce images in real time that are mapped to produce a report for physician review, interpretation, and report. The data allow quantification of pelvic floor dysfunction and may be useful in determining the most appropriate treatment (whether surgical or medical) for this gynecologic condition. The procedure uses a transvaginal probe like an ultrasound, so using 76830, transvaginal ultrasound, would not be unreasonable as a comparison code as a start.

Medicare relative value changes

Every year, Medicare reevaluates potentially misvalued CPT codes and this year was no exception. The TABLE represents the winners and losers for codes in the outpatient and facility settings that have increased or decreased RVUs by more than 10%.

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