Thyroidectomy with Central Neck Dissection

Question:  

How do I code a thyroidectomy for malignancy with bilateral central neck dissections? I see 60252 for Thyroidectomy, total or subtotal for malignancy; with limited neck dissection but not bilateral central neck dissections.

Answer:

Actually the central neck is not considered to be a structure that has laterality to it – central is middle. So if you are doing both side of the middle, then it is still a central neck dissection. CPT 60252 considers a central neck dissection to be included in 60252 and the code includes removing all the nodes around the thyroid; therefore, modifier 50 (bilateral procedure) does not apply.