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

Due to the overwhelming need for experts in the Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular specialty, the AAPC offers the CIRCC® (Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder) credential. The CIRCC® credential has been developed by expert interventional radiology physicians, technicians, coders and billers.

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

According to our Medical Coding Salary Survey, Interventional Radiology is the one of the top average earning specialties.

Cardiovascular CIRCC

The CIRCC® Exam

  • 150 multiple choice questions
  • 5 hours and 40 minutes to finish the exam
  • Price: $400
  • 1 free retake
  • Open code book (manuals)
  • Anatomical charts to assist in catheter selection (labeled with w/catheter selectivity) also may be used on the exam

The CIRCC® exam thoroughly 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

The majority of the questions are presented in a case report format. Diagnostic angiography, non-vascular interventions and percutaneous vascular interventions each comprise approximately 25% of the exam. Diagnostic cardiac catheterization and basic coronary arterial interventions cover 10% of the exam. Test sections on basic coding, anatomy and terminology each cover less than 10% of the test.

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).


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; it is essential that examinees use the current calendar year's coding manuals when taking the certification exam.

Individuals with a solid understanding of coding fundamentals, anatomy and terminology should be able to answer each examination question through application of the CPT® or HCPCS Level II manuals or through careful reasoning.

Approved Exam Manuals

Non-Approved Manuals for Use During Examination

Due to the advantages of additional information and/or ease of use, the following books cannot be used during the exam:

  • Current Procedural Coding Expert® - Ingenix
  • Procedural Coding Professional - Contexo
  • Procedural Coding Professional - AAPC
  • Procedural Coding Expert - Contexo
  • Procedural Coding Expert - AAPC
  • CPT® Insider's View - AMA
  • CPT® Plus! - PMIC
  • Coders' Choice CPT® - PMIC

Exam Requirements

While there is no experience requirement, we strongly recommend that the candidate have at least two years of experience in interventional radiology. Cardiovascular experience is also useful.

Please be aware that this is a difficult, high-level examination which is not meant for individuals with little, limited or no interventional radiology coding experience or training.

  • We recommend having an associate’s degree
  • Pay examination fee at the time of application submission
  • Maintain current membership with the AAPC
    • New members must submit membership payment with examination application
    • Renewing members must have a current membership at the time of submission and when exam results are released.
  • Materials to bring:
    • Current CPT® (AMA Standard or Professional versions only)
    • HCPCS Level II
    • Anatomical Charts to assist in catheter selection (labeled with catheter selectivity)

Maintaining Certification

The CIRCC® (Certified Interventional Radiology Cardiovascular Coder®) credential is a "base" credential, with different requirements for CEUs. Each examination is separate and distinct from one another. To obtain all certifications, each examination must be taken separately and passed. Continuing Education Unit (CEU) submissions are required for all certifications. For CEU requirements please see our CEU Information page.

We have contracted with only three companies that may 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.

CIRCC® History

Over the past several years, there have been many new developments in the percutaneous treatment of diseases, as well as rapid technological advancements in devices and procedures performed. Complex medical terminology, normal and variant anatomy and knowledge of interventional procedures and related equipment is also required. CMS (Centers for Medicare or Medicaid Services) often has changes in the governing rules and regulations, CCI edits and HCPCS Level II codes, while the AMA (American Medical Association) has many changes to E/M codes, modifier usage and CPT® procedural codes, that all impact the final codes selected. All of the above factors combine to make this area at high risk for reimbursement errors and compliance issues.

Never before has it been so important to have properly trained individuals to ensure correct coding. This exam was designed to help the examinee understand and demonstrate mastery of these many challenges. 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 influences in mind, the CIRCC® credential was designed to cover all of these intertwined issues. The ultimate goal is for a CIRCC® to perform proficiently and be comfortable whether working in a physician practice, a single specialty lab, the operating room, a swing lab, within the HIM department or the business office. This will make the credentialed examinee invaluable to both physician practices and facilities in striving to eliminate reimbursement and compliance errors.

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