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Arthroscopy Coding for Major Joints - Shoulder

AAOS Now – March 2018

An accurate understanding of coding rules increases likelihood of receiving appropriate payment
Correctly reporting and billing for arthroscopy services is often confusing.

Last month, AAOS Now reviewed the knee arthroscopy codes and outlined the appropriate use of modifiers. This month, the topic is coding for shoulder and hip arthroscopic procedures.

Arthroscopic shoulder procedures
The traditional coding rule about the shoulder is to consider the joint as one compartment. Due to continuous efforts by orthopaedic societies, a two-compartment (intra- and extra-articular) viewpoint is gaining acceptance. As a result, a few coding rules have changed. Intra-articular structures include the labrum, the long head of the biceps, a Bankart lesion, and the humeral and glenoid articular surfaces. Extra-articular structures include the rotator cuff (RC), the distal clavicle, and the subacromial space.

In 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made a significant change to the extensive débridement code (29823). There are now three situations in which this code can be billed if the extensive débridement portion of the procedure is performed in a separate area of the shoulder joint. This is similar to coding for the knee, which also has distinct anatomic compartments. The applicable codes are:


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