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Anesthesia Coding Alert

Reader Question:

Choose 36556 for Subclavian Vein Catheter

Question: One of our physicians is asking about the correct code for placement of a central line with a catheter that runs through the external jugular and ends in the subclavian vein. He wants to confirm that we should bill 36556. Normally with a central line, the physician uses a guidewire for placement, but he did not use one in this case. Is the external jugular considered peripheral or central? What's the proper code for this?Minnesota Subscriber Answer: Since the external jugular is considered central, you would indeed use 36556 (Insertion of non-tunneled centrally inserted central venous catheter; age 5 years or older). The introductory section of the CPT® manual that includes 36556 states: "To qualify as a central venous catheter or device, the tip of the catheter/device must terminate in the subclavian, brachiocephalic(innominate), or iliac veins ...," which corresponds to your physician's notes that the catheter ends in the [...]

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