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Currently, there is no curative therapy for osteoarthritis, and thus the overall goals of management are to reduce pain and prevent disability. In 1995, the
Intra-articular hyaluronic acid is “indicated for the treatment of pain in osteoarthritis of the knee in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conservative nonpharmacologic therapy, and to simple analgesics, e.g., acetaminophen.” The product inserts indicate that the Synvisc® and Euflexxa® products should be injected intra-articularly into the knee joint once per week for a total of three injections over a three-week period. In contrast, 5 weekly injections are recommended for the Hyalgan® and Supartz® products, and 3-4 weekly injections are recommended for OrthoVisc®. The FDA approved removal of a precaution statement from the package inserts for sodium hyaluronate (MW 500-730 kDa) and hylan G-F 20 that stated that the safety and efficacy of repeat courses have not been established. In February 2009, the FDA approved the use of single-dose hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc-OneTM ) for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.
The FDA has not approved intrarticular hyaluronan for joints other than the knee.
POLICYIntra-articular hyaluronan injections may be considered medically necessary for treatment of painful osteoarthritis of the knee in patients who have insufficient pain relief from conservative nonpharmacologic therapy and simple analgesics.
Repeated courses of intra-articular hyaluronan injections may be considered medically necessary under the following conditions:
The use of intra-articular hyaluronan injections into joints other than the knee is considered investigational.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFederal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
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 HISTORY5/1998: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)
8/2001: Reviewed by MPAC; Supartz added
1/29/2001: HCPCS code added
2/14/2002: Investigational definition added
3/12/2002: New 2002 codes added, J7315 deleted
5/1/2002: Type of Service and Place of Service deleted
8/2002: Reviewed by MPAC; no changes
3/13/2003: Code Reference section updated
8/29/2003: Arthrease and Orthovisc added
11/5/2003: Code Reference section reviewed, HCPCS J3490 deleted
3/31/2004: Arthrease (Savient Pharmaceutical) and Orthovisc (Anika Therapeutics) have received FDA approval
2/18/2005: Policy reviewed, Sources updated
9/21/2005: Description revised to be consistent with BCBSA policy # 2.01.31
12/13/2006: Policy reviewed, no changes
1/2/2007: Code Reference section updated per the 2007 CPT/HCPCS revisions
3/26/2007: Registered trademark symbols added
6/14/2007: Code Reference section updated per quarterly HCPCS and Category III revisions
12/19/2007: Code Reference section updated per the 2008 CPT/HCPCS revisions
1/15/2008: Policy description updated. POLICY section rewritten for clarity. Added repeated courses of intra-articular hyaluronan injections may be considered medically necessary if there was significant pain relief with the prior course, and at least six months have passed since the course to POLICY section. Osteoarthritis added to policy title.
3/27/2008: Reviewed and approved by MPAC
10/15/2009: Policy reviewed, no changes
12/15/2009: Coding Section revised for 2010 CPT4 and HCPCS revisions
12/30/2010: Policy description and statement unchanged. FEP verbiage added to the Policy Exceptions section. Deleted outdated references from the Sources section.
05/17/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
03/02/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 2.01.31
CODE REFERENCEThis is not intended to be a comprehensive list of codes. Some covered procedure codes have multiple descriptions.
The code(s) listed below are ONLY covered if the procedure is performed according to the "Policy" section of this document.