Are You an Anatomy Ace? This Chemo Quiz Will Tell

learning anatomy to code better

Let’s mix things up today with a little test. An article in Oncology & Hematology Coding Alert about intracavitary chemotherapy made me think about the importance of knowing anatomy when you need to pick an appropriate code. We often think about anatomy with ICD-10-CM codes, but it’s important for CPT® codes, too.

That’s the inspiration behind this pop quiz. See if you can match the anatomic description to the correct chemotherapy administration CPT® code.

Here Are Your Code Options

A. 51720 (Bladder instillation of anticarcinogenic agent …)

B. 96440 (Chemotherapy administration into pleural cavity …)

C. 96446 (Chemotherapy administration into the peritoneal cavity …)

D. 96450 (Chemotherapy administration, into CNS (e.g., intrathecal) …)

E. 96401 (Chemotherapy administration, subcutaneous …)

F. 96413 (Chemotherapy administration, intravenous …)

Match the Codes Above to the Relevant Anatomy Defined Below

__ 1. The central nervous system, including the area inside the membrane covering the spinal canal

__ 2. A closed space between the two layers of the lung

__ 3. Related to a vein, a tube that carries blood toward the heart

__ 4. An empty space in the layer of connective tissue lining the abdominal cavity

__ 5. A hollow muscular organ that stores urine prior to urination

__ 6. The area under the skin

Check Your Answers (No Peeking!)

  1. D. Intrathecal chemotherapy administration described by 96450 requires spinal puncture, which involves inserting a needle into the spinal canal to reach the cerebral spinal fluid.
  2. B. Chemotherapy administration represented by 96440 involves using thoracentesis (inserting a chest tube) to get the chemotherapy drug into the area between the lung and the lung lining. This procedure can help control cancerous fluid accumulations called malignant pleural effusions.
  3. F. Chemotherapy administration into a vein (IV) reported with 96413 is well known to coders who work with oncologists who provide chemo infusions. IV admin gets the medication into the bloodstream, which moves the meds through the body.
  4. C. Code 96446 represents administration into the cavity surrounding the organs in the abdomen. The provider may have the patient change positions during treatment to help the medication move within the cavity.
  5. A. Administration into the urinary bladder falls under 51720. Terms you may see for the agents involved include Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and Mutamycin.
  6. E. A subcutaneous injection (sub-q) uses a short needle that reaches between the skin and muscle. The abbreviated code descriptor shown for 96401 above leaves out that the official descriptor also includes intramuscular administration. Intramuscular administration goes through the skin and into the muscle layer. Chemotherapy chemicals are often too harsh to be delivered directly into muscle.

What About You?

How did you do? How did you learn the anatomy important to your specialty?


Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

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3 Comments For This Post


    Perfect score!! This was a great little quiz!! 🙂 Love coding infusions!

  2. Deborah Marsh Says:

    Nice work, Renee! I sometimes picture infusion coding as a secret clubhouse where you have to answer questions like “Do you know what the meaning of initial is?” to get in 🙂 Great area for people who like logic puzzles!

  3. jitendra Says:

    Hi Deborah,

    This kind of question makes me remember of my training in medical coding..since I was very poor anatomy I have work really hard to find a correct diagnosis or CPT code….very useful post..such questions will also help in preparation for medical coding certification exam as well..!!!


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