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Pathology/Lab Coding Alert


Decipher Nitrazine Test

Question: We received a vaginal fluid specimen for a Nitrazine smear. What is the test for, and how do we code it? Illinois Subscriber Answer: A physician may order a Nitrazine test on vaginal fluid to determine if a pregnant patients amniotic fluid is leaking. The test involves placing a drop of vaginal fluid on a paper strip containing Nitrazine dye. A chemical reaction causes a color change in the paper that indicates pH. The normal pH of vaginal fluid is between 4.5 and 5.5, while the normal pH of amniotic fluid is much higher -- usually between 7.0 and 7.5. You should report the test as 83986 (pH, body fluid, except blood). This is a waived test under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), so you should report the test with modifier QW (CLIA waived test) if your lab operates under a certificate of waiver.

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