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2016 Radiology CPT Code Update Typified by Bundling, Greater Specificity

October 21, 2015:

The update to the CPT® book for 2016 includes 383 new, revised, and deleted codes affecting every section of the book. With 60 changes, radiology is one of the most affected areas.

The American Medical Association, which created and maintains the CPT codes, revamped the brachytherapy codes, which are now much more specific about the type of therapy and what is included. The changes include bundling services commonly reported together into one code and more accurately reflecting procedures.

For instance, five new codes now differentiate the kinds of high-dose-rate brachytherapy (also called internal radiation therapy):

  • Two new codes—77767 and 77768—describe radionuclide skin surface brachytherapy, including dosimetry.
  • New codes 77770, 77771, and 77772 replace deleted codes 77785–77787 to describe radionuclide interstitial and intracavitary brachytherapy, including dosimetry.

The codes being replaced were much less specific, merely describing “high dose rate radionuclide brachytherapy” for one, two to 12, and more than 12 channels. Since the new codes include dosimetry, code 77300 cannot be reported separately.

As for low-dose brachytherapy, codes 77776 and 77777 have been replaced by new code 77778, which specifies complex interstitial radiation source application. The description notes that supervision, handling, and loading of the radiation source are included in the code, whereas the deleted codes made no mention of the work involved in the procedure.

Category III codes for electronic brachytherapy also have been revised for 2016. Replacing 0182T will be 0394T and 0395T. Similar to the new high-dose radiation brachytherapy codes, the new descriptions distinguish between skin surface application and interstitial or intracavitary treatment, and both include dosimetry. The deleted code description stated merely “High dose rate electronic brachytherapy, per fraction.” As with the new codes for high-dose brachytherapy, code 77300 cannot be reported separately to describe the dosimetry.

Brachytherapy is not the only area where services previously reported separately have been bundled into one code. Eight new codes (73501, 73502, 73503, 73521, 73522, 73522, 73551, and 77352) bundle together hip and pelvis radiologic exams, for instance. In addition, new codes replace genitourinary radiology codes 50392–50394, 50398, 74475, and 74480 because they were reported together 75 percent of the time. Fourteen new codes were added to describe percutaneous biliary procedures to bundle imaging guidance, such as ultrasound and/or fluoroscopy, and all associated radiological supervision and interpretation into the procedure code.

Of note are a couple of new radiology codes. Soft tissue marker placement, which previously had no CPT code, is now described with code 10035. Instead of being reported with an unlisted code, percutaneous sclerotherapy of fluid collections will have its own code, 49185, in 2016.

CPT © 2015 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.


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