From the AMA's coding perspective, it is appropriate to code the debridement with the appropriate modifer (59), if it is performed in a different area of the knee (e.g. medial and patellofemoral). However, some payers will not reimburse them separately. Do you have access to CPT Assistant Archives? It's in the June 1999 CPT Assistant. I've copied the text for you. Hope this helps. Thanks.
CPT Assistant June 1999 Surgery Musculoskeletal System, 29877 (Q&A)
The February 1996 issue of the CPT Assistant featured a question in the coding consultation section regarding coding for an arthroscopy of the knee with a lateral meniscectomy and shaving the articular cartilage. Please clarify whether these procedures must be performed in separate compartments of the knee in order to separately report these procedures.
Yes. In order to separately report arthroscopic debridement/shaving of articular cartilage (29877) and arthroscopic meniscectomy (29880, 29881) performed at the same session, the procedures must be performed in separate compartments of the knee.
To further clarify, there are three compartments of the knee commonly visualized during arthroscopic surgery: medial, lateral, and patellofemoral. When reporting meniscectomy and shaving of articular cartilage performed in separate compartments of the knee at the same session, appending the -59 modifier to the second procedure will communicate that the procedures were performed in separate compartments of the knee.
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