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Otolaryngology Coding Alert

Reader Question:
Extra Step Changes 21315 to 21320

Question: When choosing between 21315 and 21320, what are acceptable forms of stabilization? Maine Subscriber Answer: You should report the stabilization code (21320, Closed treatment of nasal bone fracture; with stabilization) when the otolaryngologist uses further stabilization after initially realigning the nasal bone. Use 21315 (... without stabilization), when the otolaryngologist doesn't perform this extra step. When an otolaryngologist performs a closed repair of nasal fracture, she places elevators or forceps into the nose and realigns the nasal bones. If, however, the bones require additional stabilization with splints, which she can apply externally (such as with a cast taped to the reduced nose), or internally, by supporting the nasal septum with splints or through gauze packing, you should assign 21320.