My doc excised a buttocks lipoma and chose the pelvis/hip code over the back/flank code. When I read the CPT Assistant's answer, it sounds like they used buttocks only as an example of where a lipoma might lie in a compressed area (vs bony prominences), not as a definitive example of a back/flank lipoma. The definition of flank includes the "outer side" of the thigh, hip, and buttocks. My question would be what would you code the "inner side" of the thigh, hip and buttocks? I think since there's a specific code for thighs & hips, you wouldn't necessarily default to the back/flank code, you'd use the thigh & hip codes for lipomas in those specific areas. Since the buttocks is on the posterior of the pelvis, & if the lipoma isn't on the "outer side" of the buttocks, I'd feel more comfortable coding it as a pelvis/hip tumor. Since it's a grey area, does anyone think this argument would hold water if I had to defend the doc's and my choice?If the incision was in the subcutaneous tissue, I disagree with everyone. Before I responded to this, I wanted to confirm my thinking so I put the question out on another list-serve. Margie Vaught (for those of you that know of her and her awesome reputation) responded with this:
Please see the below CPT assistant:
Title: Coding Communication: Questions and Answers
Body: Surgery: Integumentary/ Musculoskeletal System
Question:What is the correct CPT code to report for excision of a lipoma from the
AMA Comment:From a CPT coding perspective, lipomas are typically benign tumors that may occur sporadically or with an underlying genetic predisposition. In only the rarest of incidences are they anything but benign. While usually asymptomatic, they will produce symptoms due to their location, ie, over bony prominences or in areas that are compressed (eg, the buttocks). Lipomas may be found in multiple locations pathologically. While commonly in superficial tissue, they can also be present in subfascial and submuscular locations. Often the tumors are well defined, but, at times, the lesion may wrap around the nerves and blood vessels, complicating removal.
When a lipoma is present in a superficial location, it would be appropriate to use an excision code from the integumentary system (eg, 11400-11446, Excision, benign lesion). However, when the lipoma is in a deep subcutaneous, subfascial, or submuscular location, an appropriate code from the musculoskeletal system (eg, 21930, Excision, tumor, soft tissue of back or flank) would be reported to describe more closely the work entailed. Therefore, it will be necessary to consult the procedure report to determine the physician work involved in removing the lipoma.