Part 7: Spinal Fusion Coding — Identify Any Instrumentation or Device Used
Kim Carrier RHIT, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P
Director of Coding Quality Assurance
AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer
In Part 6, we focused on identifying the type of bone graft product used for the spinal fusion. In Part 7, we are going to focus on identifying any instrumentation or device used.
When performing a spinal fusion, the surgeon may insert rods, plates, screws, cages or hooks to hold the bone in place while the vertebral joints fuse together. These are typically made of titanium, stainless steel or cobalt chrome. By using these devices, along with spinal fusion, the patient will have immediate strength and stability to the spine. The process of the bone fusing takes several months to a year depending on the extent of the fusion. The devices may be removed after the spinal fusion is achieved, but these are typically left in place to avoid additional surgery.
Types of Instrumentation/Devices:
- Pedicle screws—these are inserted during a posterior approach. These provide no stability alone, but provide attachment points for the rods that will be inserted.
- Cages—these are oftentimes referred to as interbody fusion devices. These are used during fusion to help maintain the foraminal height as well as any needed decompression. The cages are open in the middle and will typically be filled with bone graft and/or bone substitute.
- Plates—these are typically placed to help support the anterior cage that has been placed.
- Hooks—these may be used alone or used to secure the rods and/or cables that may have been used for support of the spinal fusion. These are used to anchor the posterior spine
- Rods—these are usually used in pairs and may be cut to fit the patient’s anatomy and curve of the spine.
- Cable—this is used to apply a specific amount of tension to a particular area of the spine.
For the root operation “fusion” to be coded during spinal fusion, bone graft or bone graft substitute must also be used. Insertion of instrumentation and/or devices alone does not constitute a spinal fusion. Please see Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS, First Quarter 2018: Page 22 for more on this.
View parts 1-6 of this series here: hiacode.com/topics/series/spinal-fusion-coding/.
Be on the lookout for Part 8 which will focus on discectomy associated with spinal fusion.
Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS, First Quarter 2018: Page 22
Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS, First Quarter 2017: Page 21
Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS, Second Quarter 2017: Page 23
Coding Clinic, Third Quarter 2014: Page 30
The information contained in this coding advice is valid at the time of posting. Viewers are encouraged to research subsequent official guidance in the areas associated with the topic as they can change rapidly.
In Part 2 of our Sepsis Series, we are going to focus on sequencing of sepsis when the diagnosis is clearly documented. Later in the series we will look at what to do when the diagnosis is not clearly documented.
In this series, we will learn what sepsis is or causes of sepsis, how to sequence the diagnosis in ICD-10-CM, what are the clinical indicators for sepsis, is a query necessary before reporting the diagnosis of sepsis, and how to prevent denials on sepsis records.
In the previous three parts of this four part series, we discussed the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code changes, ICD-10-PCS procedure code changes and FY2020 IPPS changes. In this last Part 4 of the series, we will review the NTAP procedure codes and reimbursement add-on payments for FY2020.
In the previous two parts of this four part series, we discussed the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code changes and ICD-10-PC procedure code changes. In this session we will review the major IPPS changes for FY2020. On August 2, 2019, CMS published the Final Rule for IPPS (CMS-1716) FY2020 IPPS Final Rule.
In Part 1 of this 4 part series we discussed some of the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis changes. In Part 2 we present the significant ICD-10-PCS procedure code changes. There are 72,184 total ICD-10-CM codes for FY2020.
This is Part 1 of a 4 part series on the FY2020 changes to ICD-10 and the IPPS. In this part, we discuss some of the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis changes. There are 72,184 total ICD-10-CM codes for FY2020.
We have finished with the step-by-step coding tidbits on coding of spinal fusions. If you were not able to catch Parts 1-13 of this series focused on spinal fusions, please visit hiacode.com/topics/series/spinal-fusion-coding/.
In Part 12, we focused on intra-operative peripheral neuro monitoring used during spinal fusion surgery. In Part 13, we are going to focus on harvesting of autograft and is it coded. Remember in Part 6, we learned that autograft is bone from the patient.
In Part 11, we focused on identifying the computer assisted navigation used during spinal fusion surgery. In Part 12, we are going to focus on intra-operative peripheral neuro monitoring.
In Part 10, we focused on identifying whether or not hardware from a previous spinal fusion is coded. In Part 11, we are going to discuss computer assisted navigation.
In Part 9, we focused on identifying if decompression was also performed and if so, on which body part. In Part 10, we are going to focus on identifying if hardware was removed from a previous fusion site.
In Part 8, we focused on identifying if a discectomy was performed, and if so, if it was a partial or a total discectomy. In Part 9, we are going to focus on identifying if a decompression was performed, and if so, was it of the spinal cord, spinal nerves or both?
In Part 7, we focused on identifying any instrumentation that may be used during a spinal fusion. In Part 8, we are going to focus on identifying if a discectomy is performed and if this is an excision or a resection of the disc.
In Part 5, we focused on identifying the approach being used for the spinal fusion. In Part 6, we are going to focus on identifying the type of bone graft used for the spinal fusion.
In Part 4, we focused on determining the spinal column being fused. In Part 5, we are going to focus on identifying what approach is being used to complete the spinal fusion (anterior, posterior or both).
This past year, HIA implemented “Buddy Up,” a program designed to help the new hire have a smooth transition into their new HIA roles with the assistance of a “buddy.” What is a Buddy? The Buddy is simply a peer who can guide the new hire in order to make them feel more comfortable. We are very proud of this program and have many success stories that we would like to share. Take a look at the wonderful feedback we have received below.
In Part 3, we focused on determining the level of the fusion(s) and how to determine the number of vertebrae fused. In Part 4, we are going to focus on identifying which column is being fused (anterior, posterior or both).
Part 3: Spinal Fusion Coding — Determine the Level(s) or Region of Fusion and Number of Vertebrae Fused
In Part 1, we learned the diagnoses associated with the need for spinal fusions, and in Part 2 the need to identify if the fusion is an initial or refusion of the vertebrae. In Part 3, we are going to focus on determining the level(s) of fusion, as well as the number of vertebrae fused.
In Part 2, we are going to look at the differences between initial fusion and a refusion. In ICD-9, there were specific codes to show if the fusion was an initial fusion, or if it was a refusion. In ICD-10-PCS, initial fusions and refusion procedures are coded to the same root operation “fusion.”
This is Part 1 of a 14 part series focusing on education for spinal fusions. Spinal fusion coding is a tough job for coders. There are so many diseases/disorders that result in the need for spinal fusion, and even more choices in reporting the ICD-10-PCS codes.
The official definition from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) states that a Medicare overpayment is a payment that exceeds amounts properly payable under Medicare statutes and regulations. When Medicare identifies an overpayment, the amount becomes a debt you owe the Federal government.
The question asked in a physician query may be the most important element of the document. Query questions need to be as simple and concise as possible. The physician should have no doubt what the coder is asking.
Coding complications of transplanted organs has always been a coding dilemma. With the implementation of ICD-10-CM that didn’t change. However, coders have multiple directives to help in determining what a complication of the transplant is vs. non-transplant conditions and diseases.
With the implementation of ICD-10-CM came more codes for reporting many different conditions and diseases, and atrial fibrillation is one of those. For many years there was only one code available for reporting this condition, even when the physician further specified the type of atrial fibrillation that the patient had. In ICD-10-CM, there are four codes to report atrial fibrillation.
We have a case where the physician removes mucoid casts found during bronchoscopy. We have also seen mucus plugs removed during bronchoscopy. The MD performs bronchial washings then removes a large amount of tenacious and thick mucoid casts via bronchoscopy. Is this coded drainage, extirpation or excision? What body part is used?
The key to making the query process more efficient is to look for words or documentation while reviewing the record that may signal a potential query opportunity and to note the finding at that time. By the time a coder reaches the end of a record, documentation may have been found to eliminate the need for the query.
Question: This patient is noted to have “Lymphangitic carcinomatosis of lungs with mediastinal lymph nodes.” How would I code the diagnosis? Would I code metastatic cancer to the lung (C78.01) or metastatic cancer to the lymph nodes (C77.1)?
Coding these can be challenging for coders when trying to decipher the operative notes and terms that are used. The physicians are still using the terms excision and resection interchangeably and review of the entire operative note is required to select the appropriate root operation. Remember, it is the coder’s responsibility to determine the root operation based on the details from the physician in the operative report.
This would be considered a “mechanical” complication of the stent graft since the MD states it is a fracture of the endograft and it is folded over on itself. I would change T82.898A TO T82.598A for Other mechanical complication of other cardiac and vascular devices and implants, initial encounter. I did not use “displacement” because the surgeon did not state that the graft was displaced, only that it collapsed upon itself causing obstruction.