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DESCRIPTIONElectrical stimulation refers to the application of electrical current through electrodes placed directly on the skin in close proximity to the wound. Electromagnetic therapy involves the application of electromagnetic fields rather than direct electrical current. Both are proposed as treatments for chronic wounds.
The normal wound healing involves inflammatory, proliferative and remodeling phases. When the healing process fails to progress properly and the wound persists for longer than 1 month, it may be described as a chronic wound. The types of chronic wounds most frequently addressed in studies of electrical stimulation for wound healing are 1) pressure ulcers, 2) venous ulcers, 3) arterial ulcers, and 4) diabetic ulcers. Conventional or standard therapy for chronic wounds involves local wound care as well as systemic measures including debridement of necrotic tissues, wound cleansing, and dressing that promote a moist wound environment, antibiotics to control infection, and optimizing nutritional supplementation. Non-weight bearing is another important component of wound management.
Since the 1950's, investigators have used electrical stimulation as a technique to promote wound healing, based on the theory that electrical stimulation may:
Electrical stimulation refers to the application of electrical current through electrodes placed directly on the skin in close proximity to the wound. The types of electrical stimulation and devices can be categorized into four (4) groups based on the type of current: 1) low intensity direct current (LIDC), 2) high voltage pulsed current (HVPC), 3) alternative current, (AC), and 4) transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Electromagnetic therapy is a related but distinct form of treatment that involves the application of electromagnetic fields rather than direct electrical current.
At the present time, there are no electrical stimulation or electromagnetic therapy devices that have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of wound healing. A number of devices have been cleared for marketing for other indications. Use of these devices for wound healing is an off-label indication.
POLICYElectrical stimulation for the treatment of wounds, including but not limited to low-intensity direct current (LIDC), high-voltage pulsed current (HVPC), alternative current (AC), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is considered investigational.
Electrical stimulation performed by the patient in the home setting for the treatment of wounds is considered investigational.
Electromagnetic therapy for the treatment of wounds 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.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY7/27/2006: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)
5/10/2007: Policy reviewed. Code reference section updated; HCPCS E0761, E0769, G0281, G0282, G0295, and G0329 added to non-covered codes
5/9/2008: Policy reviewed, no changes
12/31/2008: Code Reference section updated per 2009 CPT/HCPCS revisions
04/13/2010: Policy description updated. Policy statement unchanged. FEP verbiage added to the Policy Exceptions section.
12/30/2010: Policy description and statement unchanged. Removed the word "Chronic" from the policy title.
11/10/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
12/13/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
06/13/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes to policy statement. Removed diagnosis code 707 from the Code Reference section.
03/19/2014: Policy statement updated to add "for the treatment of wounds, including but not limited to" for clarity purposes only. Intent of policy statement unchanged.
10/27/2014: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Policy # 2.01.57
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.