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Radiology Coding Challenge: Total Spine MRI Without Contrast

Posted on 05. Jan, 2010 by in Coding Challenge, Hot Coding Topics

Question: Which CPT code should I use for a total spine MRI without contrast?

Answer: You won’t find a single CPT code that describes a “total spine” MRI, but you may report a code for each region the radiologist examines:

• 72141 — Magnetic resonance (e.g., proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, cervical; without contrast material

• 72146 — Magnetic resonance (e.g., proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, thoracic; without contrast material

• 72148 — Magnetic resonance (e.g., proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, lumbar; without contrast material.

Support: Reporting all three spine regions (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) is appropriate when the radiologist performs and interprets an MRI of all three regions, according to the July/August 2003 issue of The ACR’s Radiology Coding Source. The ACR recommends that the radiologist dictate separate reports for each separate region studied.

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