How to bill for separate stones in the same kidney

How to bill for separate stones in the same kidney

Modifier allowable for procedures performed on separate lesions in the same organ

I recently operated on a patient with two separate stones located in separate parts of the same kidney. I was able to remove both through the ureteroscope, using laser. Can I charge for both? If so, how?

Yes, you can charge for both and should be paid for both. Medicare recently changed the rules to limit the use of the –59 modifier. In the Process, Medicare clarified the definition of modifier –59 as it relates to a separate or distinct procedures Medicare made it clear that you should be able to charge for procedures performed on two separate lesions, which are not contiguous, in the same organ. Medicare has stated that modifier –59 is:“Only appropriate if procedures are performed for lesions anatomically separate from one another or if procedures are performed at separate patient encounters.”

Since the stones were located in two separate parts of the kidney, they should fit the definition of “two separate lesions.” Reporting should include the following codes and modifiers:

• 52353

• 52353–59–76

The –76 may be unnecessary, but we recommend using it to emphasize the second charge was not a duplicate charge. The placement of a stent, if provided, would be billed without a modifier or with modifier –51, as it is not bundled into code 52353.

I am working with a critical access facility that is having issues with billing for bladder instillations. I noticed your previous article on this subject (“Know when to charge for bladder instillation,” November 2011, page 38) and was hoping you could answer my question. Per CPT 2012 surgery coding, the supplies and medications are included in a procedure unless they are above and beyond the supplies normally used. Are the drugs normally used in bladder instillations included in the procedure, or can they be billed separately?

As noted in the previous article, there are different types of bladder instillations:

• 51700—Bladder irrigation, simple, lavage, and/or instillation used for instillations of substances not used to treat cancer

• 51720—Bladder instillation of anticarcinogenic agent (including retention time) for those solutions that are used to treat cancer.

Make sure that you are coding correctly for the instillation based on the type of drug you are using. In the office setting, charge separately for the drugs that are instilled using the appropriate J codes. Charging for other supplies used is not allowed.

In a facility setting of any type, the physician is not paid for supplies or drugs. In fact, the payment rate in a facility is lower to the physician provider to account for this non-payment. The facility bills separately in either the inpatient or outpatient setting. We assume that your question is directed primarily as a concern for outpatient payment. Under the Outpayment Propsective Payment System (OPPS), certain drugs and biologicals can be paid separately from the procedure in certain circumstances. The drug/solution utilized in the installation will need to be checked for status under the OPPS payment database.

In the case of bladder instillations, it appears that bacillus Calmette–Guérin (TheraCys, TICE BCG) is paid separately, for example. A listing of all payable instillation solutions is not possible in this article, and we would encourage any further questions to be directed to Physician Reimbursement Systems at

With the critical access facility, the differences can be significant for both the amount paid and the way the claim is paid. As this is varied based on the election of the provider instilling into the bladder and the critical access facility, each facility will have differing coding and reimbursement issues.  That being said, the general answer to your question is the critical access facility will be able to report the drug separately for many instillations but not the supplies.

I was told by a friend that I should bill code 64561 bilateral for an InterStim testing phase. I was also told that I could bill code 64581 in addition to 64561 and get paid for it. What is the best and most correct way to bill for this procedure?

Your friend was partially correct. The code 64561 (Percutaneous implantation of neurostimulator electrodes; sacral nerve [transforaminal placement]) should be billed as bilateral if the procedure was performed bilaterally, which is normally the practice. This bilateral reporting was not allowed originally; however, the AUA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have since clarified that code 64561 is, at this point, a unilateral code.

Code 64581 (Incision for implantation of neurostimulator electrodes; sacral nerve [transforaminal placement]) should only be billed if there was an incision made to insert the electrodes. Some have found that the code 64581 is not included in the bundling edits of the Correct Coding Initiative relative to 64561. We are not aware of a clinical circumstance in which code 64561 was used for one side and 64581 was used for the second side; however, based on the code descriptions and current CCI, if this was indeed performed, it would be appropriate to report 64561 and 64581 for the same session. We would recommend using the –RT and –LT modifiers to clarify reporting even though it is not technically required.