Don't have a TCI SuperCoder account yet? Become a Member >>

Regular Price: $24.95

Ask An Expert Starting at $24.95
Have a medical coding or compliance question? Don’t sacrifice your valuable time to endless research. Choose Ask an Expert to get clear answers from the TCI SuperCoder team. And here’s a tip for the budget-conscious: Select the 12-question pack to get the best rate per question!

Browse Past Questions By Specialty

+View all

Thoacentesis w/ imaging guidence surgeon v radiologist charge

Candy Posted Mon 04th of March, 2013 15:26:48 PM

Can a surgeon bill '32555', Thoracentesis,w/imaging guidence, when a radiologist is present, and performs the ultrasound guidence for the procedure? This procedure is being done in a facility.

SuperCoder Answered Fri 08th of March, 2013 18:38:41 PM

Imaging guidance: The 2013 codes continue the CPT® trend of bundling imaging guidance into interventional procedures. Codes 32555 and 32557 specify "with imaging guidance." As a radiology coder, you're more likely to use these codes instead of 32554 and 32556, which are for services "without imaging guidance."

The bottom line is that you should not report imaging separately for 32554-32557 in 2013.

This is billed by radiologists.Radiologists who perform thoracentesis and pleural drainage will have something to cheer about when they receive their CPT® 2013 manuals, because those codes are better described thanks to code additions.

Candy Posted Sat 09th of March, 2013 13:57:25 PM

I understand that the imaging guidence is included in the '32555'. The Pulmonary doctor is not trying to unbundle the code.

So,to be absolutely clear, are you saying the Pulmonary physician can bill the '32555' , eventhough she is not personally performing the U/S, and the radiologist, who is performing the ultrasound, will bill his portion separately with a radiology code?

SuperCoder Answered Wed 20th of March, 2013 20:14:23 PM

There were two new codes introduced to report a thoracentesis procedure performed by your pulmonologist. If your pulmonologist performs the thoracentesis without the aid of any imaging guidance, you will have to use 32554 (Thoracentesis, needle or catheter, aspiration of the pleural space; without imaging guidance). If your pulmonologist uses imaging guidance during the procedure, you will have to use 32555 (Thoracentesis, needle or catheter, aspiration of the pleural space; with imaging guidance).

If you look at the descriptor for 32555, it very clearly states that any imaging guidance is included into 32555 and should not be reported separately. Also, you should remember that you cannot use 32554 and report the imaging guidance as a separate procedure using 76942 (Ultrasonic guidance for needle placement [e.g., biopsy, aspiration, injection, localization device], imaging supervision and interpretation)with the modifier like how you have done in your question.

So, you will only have to report 32555 for the procedure that your pulmonologist performed and will not bill out the ultrasound imaging guidance with a separate code.

Related Topics