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Gastroenterology Coding Alert

Reader Question:

Draw The Line Between Surgical and Diagnostic Laparoscopy

Question: My physician performed an open inguinal hernia repair on an  infant (49491). She also performed a diagnostic laparoscopy and found a left inguinal hernia. Can I code 49320 for the diagnostic laparoscopy? My first thought was that it would be included in the surgery, but don't see an edit saying they cannot be coded together. Any advice?Wyoming SubscriberAnswer: You should simply refer to NCCI guidelines for Surgery: Digestive System (CPT® Codes 40000-49999). Here's an excerpt on the laparoscopy section of the guidelines that can help you tackle your problem:1. Surgical laparoscopy includes diagnostic laparoscopy which is not separately reportable. If a diagnostic laparoscopy leads to a surgical laparoscopy at the same patient encounter, only the surgical laparoscopy may be reported.2. If a laparoscopy is performed as a "scout" procedure to assess the surgical field or extent of disease, it is not separately reportable. If a diagnostic laparoscopy leads to [...]


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