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  Your CPT Questions

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Q: Does the pathology section of the CPT book contain codes that pathologists can use for consultations performed via a telecommunication technology, such as telepathology, that permits real time evaluation on referred material?

A: Telepathology consultations on referred material may be coded using the pathology consultation code 88321, Consultation and report on referred slides prepared elsewhere or 88325, Consultation, comprehensive, with review of records and specimens, with report on referred material. The CPT book does not differentiate telepathologic from routine microscopic examinations. Code 88325 only should be used for consultations involving comprehensive review of the patient’s records, laboratory results, oncologist’s consultations, and similar information. It is not intended for use when review of the record is limited to pathology reports submitted with the telepathologic transmission.

Q: Because the FDA granted waived status to influenza A and B tests should these analyses be reported as 86710, Antibody; influenza virus, or 82657, Enzyme activity in blood cells, cultured cells, or tissue, not elsewhere specified; nonradioactive substrate, each specimen?

A: The FDA recently approved two types of waived influenza tests. One detects influenza A and B via an immunoassay with direct optical observation. The other uses a labeled influenza neurominidase substrate with direct optical observation. Neither can differentiate between influenza types A and B. Neither code 82657 nor 86710 is appropriate for reporting these tests. CPT convention states that one must select the code that most accurately identifies the service performed. Hence code 87899, Infectious agent detection by immunoassay with direct optical observation; not otherwise specified, most accurately describes those tests that detect the presence of influenza A and B by immunoassay with direct optical observation. Code 87999, Unlisted microbiology procedure, most accurately describes those tests that detect the presence of influenza A and B using a labeled influenza neurominidase substrate with direct optical observation.


Frequently asked questions about CPT are published bimonthly in “Capitol Scan.” This addition to CAP TODAY is a product of the CAP Economic Affairs Committee.

The codes and descriptions listed here are from Current Procedural Terminology, a copyrighted publication of the American Medical Association. To purchase CPT books, call the AMA at (800) 621-8335.

Reprinted from April 2001 CAP TODAY