Q&A: Reporting a pleural catheter declotting procedure in CPT

January 17, 2020
Medicare Web

Q: A physician performed a pleural catheter flush using saline with manual clearance of clots under ultrasound guidance. Should we bill an E/M code for an outpatient office visit or report this using other CPT codes?

A: There is no specific CPT code for a saline flush of an implanted pleural catheter to remove blood clots, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

Instead, coders should report this service using unlisted CPT code 32999 (unlisted procedure, lungs and pleura), according to the CPT Assistant published in August 2011. To support the time, intensity, and medical need for the procedure, submit documentation such as the operative report along with the claim, the AMA advises. 

Editor’s note: Laura Evans, CPC, physician practice editor at DecisionHealth in Maryland answered this question.

This answer was provided based on limited information. Be sure to review all documentation specific to your own individual scenario before determining appropriate code assignment.

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