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DESCRIPTIONDelivery of pharmacological agents to the suprachoroidal space is being investigated for treatment of diseases of posterior eye segment diseases.
The structure of the eye is classified under two subheadings: (1) anterior segment and (2) posterior segment. The anterior segment consists of the front one-third of the eye that includes; pupil, cornea, iris, ciliary body, aqueous humor, and lens; the posterior segment consists of the back two-thirds of the eye that includes vitreous humor, retina, choroid, macula, and optic nerve. Posterior segment ocular diseases (e.g., age-related macular degeneration, diabetic neuropathy) are the most prevalent causes of visual impairment. The following is a list of the various routes for ocular drug administration:
Many ocular diseases are treated with either topical or systemic medications. Topical application has remained the most preferred delivery route due to ease of administration. Topical application is useful in the treatment of disorders affecting the anterior segment of the eye. Although topical and systemic routes are convenient, lack of bioavailability and failure to deliver therapeutic levels of drugs to the retina has prompted vision scientists to continue to explore alternative routes of administration.
One potential advantage of suprachoroidal injection would be the ability to minimize systemic side effects while delivering higher local tissue levels of drugs. This proposed benefit assumes that high local levels lead to improved outcomes. Weighed against this potential benefit is the risk of localized tissue damage from the microcannula. A microcannula system combines a drug delivery channel with a fiberoptic light source for localization of the cannula tip. This technique is being investigated for the treatment of subchoroidal neovascularization related to diseases of the retina.
The iTrack™ (iScience Interventional), which is a flexible microcannula designed to allow atraumatic cannulation of spaces in the eye for infusion and aspiration of fluids during surgery, received 510(k) marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The microcannula incorporates an optical fiber to allow transmission of light to the microcannula tip for surgical illumination and guidance. The microcannula “is indicated for fluid infusion and aspiration, as well as illumination, during surgery.”
Other currently used and proposed treatments for CNV are addressed in Transpupillary Thermotherapy for Treatment of Choroidal Neovascularization.
POLICYSuprachoroidal delivery of a pharmacologic agent 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.
POLICY GUIDELINESInvestigative 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 HISTORY1/11/2008: Policy added
3/27/2008: Reviewed and approved by the Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)
04/19/2010: Policy description rewritten extensively regarding treatment approaches. Policy statement unchanged. FEP verbiage added to the Policy Exceptions section.
12/30/2010: Policy reviewed; no changes.
12/01/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
04/03/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association Policy # 9.03.19
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.