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Thread: Pelvic ultrasound coding

  1. #1

    Default Pelvic ultrasound coding

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    Can a transvaginal ultrasound (76857 or 76856) done during a fertility treatment cycle be coded with diagnoses codes other than 628 series - such as 256.4, 626.1, 617.0, 256.8, etc, if these diagnosis are the cause of her inability to conceive?

  2. #2


    I would be very careful in diagnosing a patient as infertile, if endometriosis is the cause it is endometriosis as a dx not infortility. See the article below.

    Ob-Gyn Coding Alert

    To subscribe call 800/508-2582 2009; Volume 12, number 10

    2009; Volume 12, number 10

    Focus on Approach to Overcome 4 Ovarian Cyst Removal Coding Myths

    Ace Modifier 22 Coding by Applying Expert Advice From 3 FAQs

    Hold On to Initial Infertility Visit Dollars With This 2-Part Strategy

    You Be the Coder :Include This in Your Laparoscopic RSOs

    READER QUESTIONS :Tackle This Split Postpartum Care Scenario

    READER QUESTIONS :Check Payer for Cord Blood Collection

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    READER QUESTIONS :Conquer Your Ob Complications Coding

    READER QUESTIONS :Try Your Hand at This Adhesions Lysis, Appendectomy Scenario

    Hold On to Initial Infertility Visit Dollars With This 2-Part Strategy

    Symptoms, not infertility, may help your initial visit claim pass muster.

    Don’t settle for infertility visit denials when a patient presents to your practice complaining she is unable to get pregnant. Focusing on symptoms rather than 628.9 (Infertility, female; of unspecified origin) can make all the difference in how payers view your claims.

    Get to the Crux of the Problem

    Most insurance carriers will not reimburse for infertility treatments, and many payers balk when the word “infertility” pops up.

    “Infertility services always require intensive review prior to a patient’s visit,” says Cheryl Ortenzi, CPC, billing and compliance manager of BUOB/Gyn in Boston.

    “In most cases, coverage is very specific. You have to verify coverage or lack thereof and review that with the patient so that everyone understands who is paying for these services.”

    Maximize ethical reimbursement by following two guidelines:

    Step 1: Stick to the Presenting Symptoms

    “Generally, the initial ‘infertility’ visit isn’t really about the infertility because the cause of infertility is rarely known. The patient has an initial symptom or complaint that is the primary diagnosis or reason for this visit,” says Cindy Foley, billing manager for three ob-gyn practices in Syracuse, N.Y.

    In other words, infertility issues may never enter the picture if your ob-gyn effectively treats a patient’s presenting symptoms. You should educate your physicians to doc-ument the patient’s condition(s) using terminology that in-cludes specific diagnoses as well as symptoms, problems, or reasons for the encounter. Red flag: You cannot report diag-nosis codes for conditions your ob-gyn merely “suspects.”

    Example: A woman with pelvic pain (625.9, Unspecified symptom associated with female genital organs) comes in for an appointment, and the physician focuses on this problem. The doctor discusses infertility as a secondary symptom because the patient’s more urgent problem is her pelvic pain.

    Solution: The ob-gyn’s assessment and testing reveal the patient has endometriosis (617.0, Endometriosis of uterus), and the treatment plan is surgery. Be sure to submit 625.9 as the primary diagnosis. For subsequent visits once the physician diagnoses endometriosis and the surgical treatment, you should use 617.0 as the primary diagnosis.

    Once the ob-gyn treats the endometriosis, many women become pregnant right away, and fertility never becomes an issue. In fact, the ob-gyn’s documentation never need mention infertility, except perhaps as a secondary diagnosis.

    However, if the main reason for the visit is an inability to conceive or a history of infertility, you may have cause to expect a denial.

    Watch out: Ob-gyns often rely heavily on patient histories during the first visit, and any physician will likely include a discussion of pregnancy and fertility issues as part of this history. Don’t let payers bully you by saying that this indicates treatment for infertility. You are correct to report other symptoms as diagnosis codes as long as the physician focuses the documentation on those issues.

    Step 2: Avoid Overlooking Consultations

    You may be tempted to code for an initial infertility visit as an office visit, but this may not be the case. Frequently, a woman’s primary-care physician will refer her to your obgyn.

    If this is the case, you can get paid for a consultation (99241-99245) as long as the ob-gyn documents the required components, and there is a clear request for an opinion or advice by the primary-care physician.

    Remember to check for the “five R’s” -- reason, request, render, report, and return. For the visit to qualify as a consultation, the patient’s primary physician must determine the reason for a consult and request the opinion of your ob-gyn. The ob-gyn must render services and review the patient’s condition via exam. Finally, the obgyn must then report his findings and return the patient back to the requesting doctor.

    Example: A woman with irregular menses (626.4, Irregular menstrual cycle) and cystic acne (706.1, Other acne) presents to your ob-gyn at the request of her primary physician. The primary physician suspects ovulatory dysfunction or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and would like your ob-gyn’s opinion. After a problem-focused history and exam and some diagnostic testing, the ob-gyn determines that the patient does indeed have PCOS (256.4, Polycystic ovaries). The ob-gyn discusses infertility only as a secondary symptom during the course of the history. After the visit, the ob-gyn sends a report to the requesting physician outlining the findings and proposed treatment course.

    Solution: In this case, you should report a consultation (99241-99245) based on the extent of service the documentation indicates. You should include as diagnoses 626.4, 706.1, and 256.4.

    Heads up: Be careful not to use only 256.4 because carriers often lump this with infertility treatment and may refuse to pay.

    Why the primary physician referred the patient is not always the appropriate ICD-9 code at the end of the visit.

    If the family physician referred the patient for suspected fibroids (218.x) causing infertility, and the ob-gyn does a sonogram that does not show any fibroids, you should not use fibroids as your finding.

    Rule of thumb: “I believe it boils down to determining if infertility is secondary or primary -- and you’d better be able to substantiate that,” Foley says.

    Good advice: Collect payment up front for either the whole procedure (if the patient doesn’t have any infertility benefits, such as for tubal reversal cases) or for their estimated portion (if the patient does have some coverage).

    Even if the only reason for the visit is “I can’t get pregnant,” some payers will cover the first or second visit.

    Some payers will cover services that determine the condition of infertility.


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  3. #3


    Thanks for the article! It had some great info and it answered some of the questions I have had especially about initial visits. However, taking the patient's treatment one step further..... When the endometriosis patient has now had her surgery and is still unable to conceive, some other form of treatment is then given which requires ultrasound monitoring. The inability to conceive is still considered secondary to the endometriosis, but endometriosis is not treated with fertility medications per se. Should these monitoring ultrasounds during the course of her treatment be coded with 617.0 or 628? Or is there anywhere I could find the answer to this question?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default ok to use 628 codes

    I have spent the last 16 years coding and billing in infertility. If the patient is now in a treatment cycle ( clomid, injectible medication etc) then it is absolutely correct to use a 628 code as primary then endo code if needed. Since ultrasounds don't treat endometriosis that would not be the primary code

    Also during the testing phase if you are unsure of the cause of infertility, then use the v26.21 code, along with symptom codes. The patients complaint is not being able to get pregnant and that is what will drive the claim

    Hope this helps!

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