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DESCRIPTIONHematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation
Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) refers to a procedure in which hematopoietic stem cells are infused to restore bone marrow function in patients who receive bone marrow toxic doses of cytotoxic drugs with or without whole body radiation therapy. Allogeneic HSCT refers to the use of hematopoietic progenitor cells obtained from a donor. They can be harvested from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood and placenta shortly after delivery of neonates. Cord blood is discussed in a separate policy, Placental and Umbilical Cord Blood as a Source of Stem Cells.
Immunologic compatibility between infused stem cells and the recipient is a critical factor for achieving a good outcome of allogeneic HSCT. Compatibility is established by typing of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) using cellular, serologic, or molecular techniques. HLA refers to the tissue type expressed at the Class I and Class II loci on chromosome 6. Depending on the disease being treated, an acceptable donor will match the patient at all or most of the HLA loci (with the exception of umbilical cord blood).
Preparative Conditioning for Allogeneic Hematopoietic SCT
The conventional practice of allogeneic HSCT involves administration of myelotoxic agents (e.g., cyclophosphamide, busulfan) with or without total body irradiation at doses sufficient to cause bone marrow failure. Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) refers to chemotherapy regimens that seek to reduce adverse effects secondary to bone marrow toxicity. These regimens partially eradicate the patient’s hematopoietic ability, thereby allowing for relatively prompt hematopoietic recovery. Patients who undergo RIC with allogeneic HSCT initially demonstrate donor cell engraftment and bone marrow mixed chimerism. Most will subsequently convert to full-donor chimerism. A number of different cytotoxic regimens, with or without radiotherapy, may be used for RIC allotransplantation. They represent a continuum in their intensity, from nearly totally myeloablative, to minimally myeloablative with lymphoablation.
Genetic Diseases and Acquired Anemias
The thalassemias result from mutations in the globin genes, resulting in reduced or absent hemoglobin production, reducing oxygen delivery. The supportive treatment of beta-thalassemia major requires life-long red blood cell transfusions that lead to progressive iron overload and the potential for organ damage and impaired cardiac, hepatic, and endocrine function. The only definitive cure for thalassemia is to correct the genetic defect with allogeneic HSCT.
Sickle cell disease is caused by a single amino acid substitution in the beta chain of hemoglobin, and, unlike thalassemia major, has a variable course of clinical severity. Sickle cell disease typically manifests clinically with anemia, severe painful crises, acute chest syndrome, stroke, chronic pulmonary and renal dysfunction, growth retardation, neurologic deficits, and premature death. The mean age of death for patients with sickle cell disease has been demonstrated as 42 years for males and 48 for females. Three major therapeutic options are available: chronic blood transfusions, hydroxyurea, and HSCT, the latter being the only possibility for cure.
Bone marrow failure syndromes
Aplastic anemia in children is rare, and is most often idiopathic and less commonly due to a hereditary disorder. Inherited syndromes include Fanconi anemia, a rare, autosomal recessive disease, characterized by genomic instability, with congenital abnormalities, chromosome breakage, cancer susceptibility, and progressive bone marrow failure leading to pancytopenia and severe aplastic anemia. Frequently this disease terminates in a myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myelogenous leukemia. Most patients with Fanconi anemia succumb to the complications of severe aplastic anemia, leukemia, or solid tumors, with a median survival of 30 years of age. In Fanconi anemia, HSCT is currently the only treatment that definitively restores normal hematopoiesis. Excellent results have been observed with the use of HLA-matched sibling allogeneic HSCT, with cure of the marrow failure and amelioration of the risk of leukemia.
Dyskeratosis congenita is characterized by marked telomere dysregulation with clinical features of reticulated skin hyperpigmentation, nail dystrophy, and oral leukoplakia. Early mortality is associated with bone marrow failure, infections, pulmonary complications, or malignancy.
Mutations affecting ribosome assembly and function are associated with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, and Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Shwachman-Diamond has clinical features that include pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, skeletal abnormalities and cytopenias, with some patients developing aplastic anemia. As with other bone marrow failure syndromes, patients are at increased risk of myelodysplastic syndrome and malignant transformation, especially acute myelogenous leukemia. Diamond-Blackfan anemia is characterized by absent or decreased erythroid precursors in the bone marrow, with 30% of patients also having a variety of physical anomalies.
The primary immunodeficiencies are a genetically heterogeneous group of diseases that affect distinct components of the immune system. More than 120 gene defects have been described, causing more than 150 disease phenotypes. The most severe defects (collectively known as severe combined immunodeficiency or SCID) cause an absence or dysfunction of T lymphocytes, and sometimes B lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Without treatment, patients with SCID usually die by 12 to 18 months of age. With supportive care, including prophylactic medication, the life span of these patients can be prolonged, but long-term outlook is still poor, with many dying from infectious or inflammatory complications or malignancy by early adulthood. Bone marrow transplant is the only definitive cure, and the treatment of choice for SCID and other primary immunodeficiencies, including Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and congenital defects of neutrophil function.
Inherited metabolic diseases
Lysosomal storage disorders consist of many different rare diseases caused by a single gene defect, and most are inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. Lysosomal storage disorders are caused by specific enzyme deficiencies that result in defective lysosomal acid hydrolysis of endogenous macromolecules that subsequently accumulate as a toxic substance. Peroxisomal storage disorders arise due to a defect in a membrane transporter protein that leads to defects in the metabolism of long -chain fatty acids. Lysosomal storage disorders and peroxisomal storage disorders affect multiple organ systems, including the central and peripheral nervous systems. These disorders are progressive and often fatal in childhood due to both the accumulation of toxic substrate and a deficiency of the product of the enzyme reaction. Hurler syndrome usually leads to premature death by 5 years of age.
Exogenous enzyme replacement therapy is available for a limited number of the inherited metabolic diseases; however, these drugs do not cross the blood-brain barrier, which results in ineffective treatment of the central nervous system. Stem-cell transplantation provides a constant source of enzyme replacement from the engrafted donor cells, which are not impeded by the blood-brain barrier. The donor-derived cells can migrate and engraft in many organ systems, giving rise to different types of cells, for example microglial cells in the brain and Kupffer cells in the liver.
Allogeneic HSCT has been used primarily to treat the inherited metabolic diseases that belong to the lysosomal and peroxisomal storage disorders, as listed in the table below. The first stem-cell transplant for an inherited metabolic disease was in 1980 in a patient with Hurler syndrome. Since that time, more than 1,000 transplants have been performed worldwide.
Category Diagnosis Other Names Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) MPS I Hurler, Scheie, H-S Sphingolipiodsis Fabry’s Lipogranuomatosis Glycoproteinosis Aspartylglucosaminuria Sialidosis Other lipidoses Niemann-Pick disease C Type III-Batten disease Glycogen storage GSD type II Pompe Multiple enzyme deficiency Galactosialidosis I-cell disease Cystinosis Peroxisomal storage disorders Adrenoleukodystrophy ALD
Hurler, Scheie, H-S
Niemann-Pick disease C
Type III-Batten disease
GSD type II
Multiple enzyme deficiency
Peroxisomal storage disorders
Infantile malignant osteopetrosis
Osteopetrosis is a condition caused by defects in osteoclast development and/or function. The osteoclast (the cell that functions in the breakdown and resorption of bone tissue) is known to be part of the hematopoietic family and shares a common progenitor with the macrophage in the bone marrow. Osteopetrosis is a heterogeneous group of heritable disorders, resulting in several different types of variable severity. The most severely affected patients are those with infantile malignant osteopetrosis. Patients with infantile malignant osteopetrosis suffer from dense bone, including a heavy head with frontal bossing, exophthalmos, blindness by approximately 6 months of age, and severe hematologic malfunction with bone marrow failure. Seventy percent of these patients die before the age of 6, often of recurrent infections. HSCT is the only curative therapy for this fatal disease.
Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation for autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis, is considered separately in Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Autoimmune Diseases medical policy.
POLICYNo benefits will be provided for a covered transplant procedure or a transplant evaluation unless the Member receives prior authorization through case management from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi.
Allogeneic bone marrow transplants are considered medically necessary for selected patients with the following disorders:
Bone marrow failure syndromes
Inherited metabolic disease
Genetic disorders affecting skeletal tissue
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFor Federal Employee Program (FEP) subscribers, the Service Benefit Plan includes specific conditions in which autologous or allogeneic blood or marrow stem cell transplants would be considered eligible for coverage.
For State and School Employee subscribers, all bone marrow/stem cell transplants must be certified as medically necessary by the Plan’s Utilization Review Vendor. No benefits will be provided for any transplant procedure unless prior approval for the transplant is obtained.
Investigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY3/25/2004: See policy "Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant" prior to 3/25/2004, separate policy developed and aligned with BCBSA policy # 8.01.22
8/19/2004: Code Reference section completed
11/18/2004: Reviewed by MPAC; no changes
10/27/2005: Code Reference section updated; CPT-4 codes 38204, 38205, 38207, 38208, 38209, 38210, 38211, 38212, 38213, 38214, 38215, 38230 added; ICD-9 Procedures 41.02, 41.03, 41.05, 41.08 added; HCPCS G0355, G0356, G0357, G0358, G0359, G0360, G0361, G0362, G0363, G0364 added, J9000-J9999 deleted
03/10/2006: Coding updated. CPT4/HCPCS 2006 revisions added to policy.
09/12/2006: Coding updated. ICD9 2006 revisions added to policy
12/21/2006: Policy reviewed, no changes
9/18/2007: Code reference section updated. ICD-9 2007 revisions added to policy
12/20/2007: Coding updated per 2008 CPT/HCPCS revisions
9/28/2009: Code reference section updated. New ICD-9 diagnosis code 285.3 added to covered table. ICD-9 procedure code 284.8 deleted from covered table due to code was deleted as of 9-30-2007. HCPC codes G0265, G0266 and G0267 deleted from covered table due to codes were deleted as of 12-31-2007.
06/04/2010: The title changed from “High Dose Chemotherapy and Allogeneic Stem-Cell Support for Genetic Diseases and Acquired Anemias” to “Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Genetic Diseases and Acquired Anemias.” Policy description was revised to include detailed information regarding genetic diseases and acquired anemias. Table inserted describing Lysomal and Peroxisomal Storage Disorders. Policy statement section revised to include medically necessary indications for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. FEP and State and School Employee verbiage added to Policy Exceptions section. Added new CPT Codes 86825 and 86826 to the Covered Codes Table.
10/21/2010: Policy reviewed; no changes.
10/05/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
11/30/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
11/15/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
11/13/2014: Policy reviewed; description updated regarding bone marrow failure syndromes. Policy statement regarding bone marrow failure syndromes updated to include aplastic anemia.
08/21/2015: Code Reference section update to add ICD-10 codes. Revised the descriptions for CPT codes 38240 and 38242; removed deleted CPT code G0363; removed deleted code CPT 96445 and replaced with CPT code 96446. Removed ICD-9 procedure code 99.25 and ICD-9 diagnosis code 288.0.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 8.01.22
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.
The code(s) listed below are ONLY medically necessary if the procedure is performed according to the "Policy" section of this document.