CPT® 2012: Check View Requirement Changes In Spine X-ray Codes 72114 and 72120

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 --

Coding Updates

Where view requirements are concerned, CPT adds and deletes away two spine X-ray codes in 2012. Be sure your practice applies these key code updates, effective for services on or after January 1.

Start Prepping For Tougher 72114 Requirements

In order to report 72114 for a lumbosacral spine X-ray, you must abide by a new requirement for a “minimum of 6 views”:

2011: 72114, Radiologic examination, spine, lumbosacral; complete, including bending views

2012: 72114, Radiologic examination, spine, lumbosacral; complete, including bending views, minimum of 6 views.

As described above, the 2012 CPT code will apply to six or more views while the 2011 definition of 72114 did not include any specific number of views.

Potential problem: Some physicians now document “complete including bending views,” rather than stating the number of views, says Lori Hendrix, CPC, CPC-I, CPC-H, CIRCC, PCS, FCS, senior project coordinator, compliance department, for Wellstar in Georgia.

Solution: This change “is going to require physician education to ensure coders are given enough information to support this code,” Hendrix says. Stating the precise number of views has always been a documentation best practice, but this change for 2012 makes documenting those views absolutely necessary.

Alert your physicians and techs to the new requirement, and ask for documentation of the number of views, as well as the type of views, so you can support use of 72114.

Example: The radiologist’s note documents performance and interpretation of the following views:

  • AP (anteroposterior)
  • Lateral
  • Flexion
  • Extension
  • LPO (left posterior oblique)
  • RPO (right posterior oblique)
  • Left bending view
  • Right bending view.

Because the documentation meets the minimum of six views and includes bending views, you should select 72114. (Reminder: Because the code covers a “minimum of 6 views,” you should not report any views beyond the first six with a separate code. A single unit of 72114 will cover all of the lumbosacral spine X-ray views.)

2 Views Will Now Suffice for 72120

If you didn’t like the new minimum view requirement for 72114, you may be happy to know the change to 72120. CPT® 2012 actually reduces the required number of views for 72120 from “minimum of 4” to “2 or 3”:

2011: 72120, Radiologic examination, spine, lumbosacral, bending views only, minimum of 4 views

2012: 72120, Radiologic examination, spine, lumbosacral, bending views only, 2 or 3 views.

This change is along the lines of current practice because physicians frequently don’t require four views to capture what they need to see, says Hendrix. “Whenever bending views are ordered, they are almost certain to require/order at least two views.” So meeting the requirements of 72120 will be much easier in 2012.

Example: The radiologist documents interpretation of a left bending view and a right bending view taken at a facility. To code the professional component only, you should report 72120-26 (Professional component).


Barnali is a medical coding and billing writer at TCI who has worked in the healthcare industry since 2009. She holds a master’s degree in English literature and a diploma in advertising and marketing. She enjoys writing about ICD-10 and Medicare compliance.

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