November 17, 2022
I am confused and hoping you can clarify a coding question I have. I thought I understood how to report laminectomy levels, however, after recently reading an article in the AHA Coding Clinic HCPCS Volume 22, Number 2 Second Quarter 2022 publication, I doubt myself. The surgeon performs and documents a L2, L3, L4 laminectomy with decompression (lateral recess). I have always coded this as 63047, and one unit of 63048. The coding publication I was reading states to report 63047 and 2 units of 63048. Have I been coding incorrectly by only reporting one unit of 63048?
Thank you for contacting KZA for clarification. We understand your concern when reading various publications and seeing articles that are not consistent with what you thought you knew.
Without seeing an actual operative note, we agree with how you have coded this type of case in the past. Let’s take a look why.
CPT code 63047 is defined as “Laminectomy, facetectomy and foraminotomy (unilateral or bilateral) with decompression of spinal cord, cauda equina and/or nerve root(s), (e.g., spinal or lateral recess stenosis)), single vertebral segment; lumbar”
A “vertebral segment” means per motion segment. The decompression of the existing nerve root is performed in the interspace between the two lamina.
L2, L3, L4 when looked at closely defines two motion segments:
L3-4= 63048 x 1 unit.
To report a third unit of 63048, the surgeon would either have had to go “up a level” to L1-L2, or “down a level” to L4-5.
We appreciate your verifying your coding practices.
*This response is based on the best information available as of 11/17/22.