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Orthopedic Coding Alert

READER QUESTIONS:

20550 or 20551 for Elbow Epicondylitis Injection

Question: What is the best code for an injection to treat elbow epicondylitis? Missouri Subscriber Answer: When your physician does this procedure, she generally is injecting the insertion, which is 20551 (Injection[s]; single tendon origin/insertion). However, CPT's section on elbow introduction or removal includes the notation, "for injection of tennis elbow, use CPT 20550" (Injection[s], single tendon sheath, or ligament, aponeurosis [e.g., plantar "fascia"]). Code 20551 might be the best choice in many cases, but check your physician's documentation to be sure you shouldn't be reporting 20550 or another code instead. Don't slip: Coders sometimes turn to 20605 (Arthrocentesis, aspiration and/or injection; intermediate joint or bursa [e.g., temporomandibular, acromioclavicular, wrist, elbow or ankle, olecranon bursa]) for tennis elbow, but 20550 is the better choice.


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