Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder (CIRCC®) - Certification Exam

Due to the overwhelming need for experts in the interventional radiology cardiovascular specialty, AAPC offers the CIRCC® credential and encourages experienced interventional radiology cardiovascular coders to sit for the certification exam.

Interventional radiology coding and charging error rates are known to be high for this radiology subspecialty. The CIRCC credential validate an additional level of education, knowledge, and expertise required by the individuals who work in this complex and specialized area.

The CIRCC®exam covers:

  • Diagnostic angiography
  • Non-vascular interventions (biliary procedures, biopsies, ablations, spine interventions, etc.)
  • Percutaneous vascular interventions
  • Diagnostic cardiac catheterization
  • Basic coronary arterial interventions
  • Basic coding
  • Anatomy
  • Terminology

Most questions on the CIRCC exam are presented in a case report format. Diagnostic angiography, non-vascular interventions, and percutaneous vascular interventions account for approximately 25% of the exam. Diagnostic cardiac catheterization and basic coronary arterial interventions make up 10% of the exam. Test sections on basic coding, anatomy, and terminology account for less than 10% of the test.

Cardiovascular CIRCC

The CIRCC® Exam

  • 100 multiple choice questions (proctored)
  • 4 hours to finish the exam
  • Open code book (manuals)
  • $400 for 1 attempt
  • $450 for 2 attempts


  • Must schedule examination four weeks in advance
  • Must have current AAPC membership
  • We strongly recommend that you have at least two years of experience in the specialty prior to sitting for the certification exam. Please be aware that these are difficult, high-level examinations not intended for individuals with little, limited, or no coding experience

Passing & Certification

Each specialty certification exam must be taken separately and passed. To obtain all certifications, you must test in all specialties.

An overall score of 70% or higher is required to pass the certification exam. If you don't pass, the areas of study/categories with a score of 65% or less will be provided for your preparation to retest. The areas of study reported reflect scores based on the number of questions in each category/section of the exam.

Maintaining your certification will require Continuing Education Units (CEUs). We have contracted with three companies that provide training that will qualify for the 8 specific CEUs required each year (or 16 CEUs per renewal period) to maintain the CIRCC® credential. These companies are ZHealth Publishing, MedLearn Publishing, and Medical Asset Management. Although other pre-approved vendors may provide interventional radiology training, the CIRCC® CEU requirement must come from one of the above-mentioned companies.

Approved Manuals for Use During Examination

  • CPT® Books (AMA standard or professional edition ONLY) no other publisher is allowed
  • Your choice of HCPCS Level II
  • For the CIRCC® examinations you may use anatomical charts to assist in catheter selection (labeled with w/catheter selectivity).

Confirm what reference materials are allowed during the specialty certification exam.


Electronic devices with an on/off switch (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc.) are not allowed into the examination room. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disqualification of your exam.

Any officially published errata for these manuals may also be used. No other manuals are allowed. Each code set is updated annually, so it's essential that you use the current calendar year's code books when taking the certification exam.

CIRCC® History

Current trends reveal increasing numbers of percutaneous nonvascular and vascular procedures being performed in interventional radiology departments and angio suites, cardiac catheterization labs, endovascular suites, the operating room and in other departments and clinics performing non-vascular intervention.

Charging and coding within the facility is often fragmented between technologists and HIM coders. Physician practice coding is usually through a single coder who must have a high level of expertise for accurate billing. Many physicians are combining cardiac and peripheral procedures during the same encounter for patient benefit resulting in additional complexities to accurate coding

With these issues in mind, the CIRCC credential was designed to eliminate reimbursement and compliance errors. The goal for the CIRCC is to perform proficiently in the physician practice, the single specialty lab, the operating room, the swing lab, and within the HIM department or business office.

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