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Otolaryngology Coding Alert

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Submental Mass Codes Vary Widely

Question: Which code should we use when we excise a submental mass? New York Subscriber Answer: It’s difficult to say without seeing the operative note, but you should probably use one of the following codes, depending on where the mass was and how the otolaryngologist removed it: 15838 -- Excision, excessive skin and subcutaneous tissue (including lipectomy); submental fat pad 21555 -- Excision, tumor, soft tissue of neck or anterior thorax, subcutaneous; less than 3 cm 21556 -- Excision, tumor, soft tissue of neck or anterior thorax, subfascial (eg, intramuscular); less than 5 cm 41007 -- Intraoral incision and drainage of abscess, cyst, or hematoma of tongue or floor of mouth; submental space 41016 -- Extraoral incision and drainage of abscess, cyst, or hematoma of floor of mouth; submental. Although 15838 refers specifically to an excision involving the submental space, this procedure is often considered cosmetic (for example, it may be difficult to collect payment [...]