Billing for Reopening of Recent Laparotomy

Billing for Reopening of Recent Laparotomy

December 3, 2020

Question:
Our surgeon insists on billing for 49002 reopening of a recent laparotomy and a 44005 lysis of adhesions, since the case is complicated because the laparotomy was only 60 days ago. Can he bill for both in any circumstance?

Answer:
Although this was a reopening of a recent laparotomy, lysis of adhesions was the primary procedure performed and would be the only code billable. Coding rules would follow the same guidelines for 49002 just as they do for an exploratory laparotomy 49000. When a more extensive procedure is performed, the laparotomy (in this case reopening of a laparotomy) is not separately billable. And don’t forget to add the appropriate modifier depending on the circumstance, to indicate whether the surgery was related, for example a complication, (78), an intentionally staged procedure (58) or if unrelated (79) to the original laparotomy.

*This response is based on the best information available as of 12/03/20.

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