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Adequate sedation and analgesia are important parts of many diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures. Various levels of sedation and analgesia (anesthesia) may be used, depending on the patient’s condition and the procedure being performed.
Moderate (conscious) sedation is generally used for both diagnostic and uncomplicated therapeutic endoscopic procedures. Moderate sedation involves the administration of medication with or without analgesia to achieve a state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient’s ability to respond to stimulation. It includes pre- and post-sedation evaluations, administration of sedation, and monitoring of the cardiorespiratory functions (heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level.) Moderate sedation is commonly performed using diazepines with or without narcotic agents. For routine endoscopic procedures and screenings among patients without risk factors or significant medical conditions, moderate sedation is considered a sufficient level of sedation.
Monitored anesthesia care is a set of anesthesia services defined by the type of anesthesia personnel present during a procedure, not specifically by the level of anesthesia needed. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has defined monitored anesthesia care. The following is derived from ASA statements:
"Monitored anesthesia care is a specific anesthesia service for a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure. Indications for monitored anesthesia care include the nature of the procedure, the patient’s clinical condition and/or the potential need to convert to a general or regional anesthetic.
Monitored anesthesia care includes all aspects of anesthesia care – a pre-procedure visit, intra-procedure care and post-procedure anesthesia management. During monitored anesthesia care, the anesthesiologist provides or medically directs a number of specific services, including but not limited to:
- Diagnosis and treatment of clinical problems that occur during the procedure
Monitored anesthesia care may include varying levels of sedation, analgesia, and anxiolysis as necessary. The provider of monitored anesthesia care must be prepared and qualified to convert to general anesthesia when necessary. If the patient loses consciousness and the ability to respond purposefully, the anesthesia care is a general anesthetic, irrespective of whether airway instrumentation is required."
Propofol is an agent that has been used increasingly to provide monitored anesthesia care for endoscopic procedures. Propofol is associated with a rapid onset of action and fast recovery from sedation. However, there are concerns about potential side effects and safety when used by non-anesthesiologists. It has the potential to induce general anesthesia, and there is no pharmacologic antagonist to reverse its action. In many practice situations, it is common for propofol to be administered by anesthesiologists, whereas moderate sedation using diazepines with or without narcotics is usually administered by or under the supervision of the endoscopist.
Propofol Diprivan® (AstraZeneca) was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the late 1980s. The current FDA-approved label for Diprivan® states that it is indicated for initiation and maintenance of monitored anesthesia care sedation, combined sedation and regional anesthesia, or intensive care unit sedation of intubated, mechanically ventilated patients (adults only). It is also approved for induction of general anesthesia in patients 3 years of age and older and maintenance of general anesthesia in patients 2 months of age and older.
This policy only addresses anesthesia services for diagnostic or therapeutic endoscopic procedures.
POLICYUse of monitored anesthesia care may be considered medically necessary for gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures when there is documentation by the endoscopist and anesthesiolgist that specific risk factors or significant medical conditions are present. Those risk factors or significant medical conditions are as follows:
Use of monitored anesthesia care is considered not medically necessary for gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures in patients at average risk related to use of anesthesia and sedation who are undergoing gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures, including endoscopic procedures used in screening.
Other indications for Colonoscopy, Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, and CT Colonography, are discussed in a separate policy.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member’s specific benefit plan language.
*American Society of Anesthesiologists classification system for assessing a patient before surgery:
Medically Necessary is defined as those services, treatments, procedures, equipment, drugs, devices, items or supplies furnished by a covered Provider that are required to identify or treat a Member's illness, injury or Nervous/Mental Conditions, and which Company determines are covered under this Benefit Plan based on the criteria as follows in A through D:
A. consistent with the symptoms or diagnosis and treatment of the Member's condition, illness, or injury; and
B. appropriate with regard to standards of good medical practice; and
C. not solely for the convenience of the Member, his or her Provider; and
D. the most appropriate supply or level of care which can safely be provided to Member. When applied to the care of an Inpatient, it further means that services for the Member's medical symptoms or conditions require that the services cannot be safely provided to the Member as an Outpatient.
For the definition of Medically Necessary, “standards of good medical practice” means standards that are based on credible scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed medical literature generally recognized by the relevant medical community, and physician specialty society recommendations, and the views of medical practitioners practicing in relevant clinical areas and any other relevant factors. BCBSMS makes no payment for services, treatments, procedures, equipment, drugs, devices, items or supplies which are not documented to be Medically Necessary. The fact that a Physician or other Provider has prescribed, ordered, recommended, or approved a service or supply does not in itself, make it Medically Necessary.
POLICY HISTORY5/26/2009: Policy added
7/06/2009: Link to Colonoscopy, Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, and CT Colonography added to Policy Statement
04/21/2010: Policy statement revised to change “Patients age 70 or greater” to “Patients of extreme age.” Reworded statement regarding patients at average risk.
08/11/2010: Policy reviewed; no changes.
04/18/2011: Policy statement updated to add examples of patients with increased risk for airway obstruction. Also added the following risk factors: morbid obesity, severe sleep apnea, inability to follow simple commands, spasticity or movement disorder complicating procedure, or history or anticipated intolerance to standard sedatives. Added the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status classifications to the Policy Guidelines.
06/21/2011: Added the risk factor "Patients of extreme age, i.e., younger than age 12 or age 70 years or older" back to the policy statement.
02/24/2012: Policy statement revised to change the BMI for morbid obesity from > 50 to >40.
05/09/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
07/18/2013: Policy statement revised to change severe sleep apnea (oxygen and bi-pap required during sleep) to documented sleep apnea; history of sleep apnea was removed from the patients with increased risk for airway obstruction due to anatomic variation criteria; and patients of extreme age, i.e., younger than age 12 or age 70 years or older was changed to patients younger than 18 years or 70 years or older.
03/19/2014: Policy reviewed; no changes.
08/31/2015: Code Reference section updated for ICD-10.
06/01/2016: Policy number A.7.02.01 added. Policy Guidelines updated to add medically necessary definition.
12/06/2016: Policy description updated to define monitored anesthesia care according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Policy statements unchanged.
SOURCESBlue Cross & Blue Shield Association policy # 7.02.01
This 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.
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