Calculating Body Surface Area Burned

Calculating Body Surface Area Burned

Codes to report local treatment of burns, and many skin grafting procedure codes, specify the total body surface area (TBSA) treated. For example, 16020 describes, “Dressing and/or debridement of partial thickness burns, initial or subsequent; small (less than 5% total body surface area).” Similarly, 15115 specifies, “Epidermal autograft, face, scalp, eyelids, mouth, neck, ears, orbits, genitalia, hands, feet, and/or multiple digits; first 100 sq cm or less, or 1% of body area of infants and children” [emphasis added in both descriptors].
TBSA is calculated using the Lund-Browder Classification Method. Lund-Browder divides the body into nearly 20 distinct areas, including neck, left and right buttocks, left and right hand, upper and lower arm, etc. Additionally, Lund-Browder specifies six age groups (to account for changes in body makeup as individuals develop into adulthood). Collectively, these changes allow for a more accurate calculation of the TBSA affected and, potentially, more exact coding.
An easy-to-use Lund-Browder Classification Method chart, listing TBSA percentages by body areas and patient age, may be found in the CPT® codebook. CPT® guidelines require that the provider document both the percentage of body surface involved and the depth of burn.

John Verhovshek
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About Has 575 Posts

John Verhovshek, MA, CPC, is a contributing editor at AAPC. He has been covering medical coding and billing, healthcare policy, and the business of medicine since 1999. He is an alumnus of York College of Pennsylvania and Clemson University.

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