Providing Exposure For a Spine Procedure? What’s the Correct Code?



I provide the retroperitoneal exposure for a neurosurgeon colleague for an anterior spine procedure. My partner went to the SVS coding course and tells me this is co-surgery. I have been billing 49010 for the exploratory laparotomy, retroperitoneal, since that is what I am doing and I have been getting paid without any problem. What is the correct coding for this situation?


Your partner is correct and confirms the value of attending a coding course! The anterior spine procedure performed by the neurosurgeon, typically an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (22558), is valued for the approach, the procedure, and the closure. Therefore, you are doing a distinct part of that CPT code and are therefore acting as a co-surgeon. Reporting 49010 is essentially double billing the approach. To code this correctly, both you and the neurosurgeon should report 22558-62 for this work.