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DESCRIPTIONEndobronchial brachytherapy describes the delivery of radiation therapy directly to endobronchial lesions, using either permanent interstitial implantation of radioactive seeds or a temporary afterloading implant. The technique permits targeted radiation while minimizing exposure to surrounding radiosensitive structures, such as normal lung, heart and spinal cord.
Endobronchial brachytherapy has been most investigated as a palliative treatment of obstructing primary or metastatic tumors, particularly in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There is also experience using endobronchial brachytherapy as a tool in curative treatment for some primary bronchial and tracheal tumors. Two to four fractions delivered weekly is a typical schedule. The most serious complications described for endobronchial brachytherapy are massive hemoptysis, formation of tracheoesophageal fistulas, bronchospasm, bronchial stenosis, and radiation bronchitis.
In the outpatient setting, the patient receives local anesthesia and monitored sedation. A flexible bronchoscope is passed transnasally; a separate port on the bronchoscope allows passage of the afterloading catheter to the target lesion. Once the catheter is placed the radioisotope can be administered by the high dose radiotherapy afterloading machine. Patients with potential airway compromise due to bleeding may require treatment with a rigid bronchoscope, which requires general anesthesia and frequently an overnight hospitalization.
Endobronchial brachytherapy represents one approach to the local treatment of endobronchial lesions. Other technologies include electrocoagulation, cryosurgery, laser resection and endobronchial stent placement. In some instances, the therapies may be used together, such as using laser therapy for initial debulking followed by brachytherapy. Additionally, brachytherapy has been investigated as a "boost" to curative external beam radiation therapy.
POLICYEndobronchial brachytherapy may be considered medically necessary in the following clinical situations:
Other applications of endobronchial brachytherapy are investigational including, but not limited to, its use as a radiation "boost" to external beam radiotherapy, as treatment for asymptomatic recurrences of non-small-cell lung cancer, or in the treatment of hyperplastic granulation tissue.
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 HISTORY5/1999: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)
2/13/2002: Investigational definition added, coding information moved from Policy Guidelines section to the Code Reference section and revised
4/24/2002: Type of Service and Place of Service deleted, Code Reference section updated, CPT code 77776-7778, 77799 added, ICD-9 procedure code 33.23 added, HCPCS Q3001 added
4/19/2004: Policy reviewed, Sources updated
8/23/2005: Code Reference section updated, “Previously the bronchoscopy component of endobronchial brachytherapy was probably coded by CPT code 31641 (bronchoscopy with destruction of tumor) or by using CPT codes 77761-63 with a modifier -62 to indicate the participation of a surgeon/pulmonologist in addition to the radiation oncologist.” deleted, CPT code 31643, 77790 description revised, CPT code 77326-77328, 77761-77763 description revised and listed separately, CPT code 77776-77778, 77781-77784 listed separately, ICD-9 procedure code 92.27 description revised, ICD-9 diagnosis code 162.2-162.9 listed separately, ICD-9 diagnosis code 231.2 deleted
8/18/2008: Policy reviewed, no changes
12/31/2008: Code reference section updated per 2009 CPT/HCPCS revisions.
03/22/2010: Policy description updated. Policy statement changed to indicate that use as palliative treatment for severe hemoptysis and in recurrent tumors may be considered medically necessary. Policy statement updated to state that use as treatment for asymptomatic recurrent disease or to treat hyperplastic granulation tissue is considered investigational. Deleted outdated references from the Sources section. Revised the description of CPT code 31643.
04/20/2011: Policy description and statement unchanged. Removed deleted CPT codes 77781, 77782, 77783, 77784 from the Code Reference section.
03/27/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
04/17/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 8.03.11
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.
Endobronchial brachytherapy is a multi-step procedure requiring a series of radiation oncology CPT codes for radiation treatment planning, radiation physics, treatment delivery and clinical treatment management. In contrast to other types of radiation therapy, endobronchial brachytherapy requires the services of a radiation oncologist and a pulmonologist or other physician to perform the bronchoscopy and insert the catheter. In 1999 a new CPT code, 31643, was introduced that specifically identified the catheter placement.