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Transcatheter uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive technique that involves the injection of small particles into the uterine arteries to block the blood supply to the uterus and uterine fibroids. It potentially serves as an alternative to hysterectomy. UAE has also been used to treat other conditions including postpartum hemorrhage, cervical ectopic pregnancy, and bleeding uterine arteriovenous malformation.
Uterine leiomyomata (ie, fibroids) are extremely common benign tumors, which can be located primarily within the uterine cavity (submucosal fibroids) or on the serosal surface of the uterus. Treatment is usually sought when the fibroids are associated with menorrhagia, pelvic pain, urinary symptoms (ie, frequency) or are suspected to be the cause of infertility. Treatment options include medical therapy with gonadotropin agonists or gestagen suppression or various types of surgical therapy. Hysterectomy is considered the definitive surgical treatment for those who no longer wish to maintain fertility. Various types of myomectomy, which describes removal of the fibroid with retention of the uterus, have also been described. Hysteroscopic myomectomy involves removal of submucosal fibroids using either a resectoscope or a laser. Subserosal fibroids can be removed via an open abdominal or laparoscopic approach. Laparoscopic laser coagulation of uterine fibroids is a unique approach in that the fibroid is not physically removed, but instead multiple (up to 75) laparoscopic laser punctures of the uterine fibroids are performed in an effort to devascularize the fibroid and induce atrophy.
There is interest in techniques to directly devascularize the uterine fibroid by interrupting the uterine arteries. One technique, uterine artery embolization (UAE) involves selective catheterization of the uterine arteries with injection of embolization material. UAE has also been used to control bleeding in other situations such as severe postpartum hemorrhage, treatment of cervical ectopic pregnancy, and treatment of bleeding uterine arteriovenous malformation.
In November 2002, Embosphere® Microspheres was cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the 510(k) process specifically for use in uterine fibroid embolization. The FDA determined that this device was substantially equivalent to existing devices for use in arterial embolization. Since that time, several other devices such as Coutour® Emboli PVA (September 2003), Contour SE™ (March 2004), and Cook Incorporated Polyvinyl Alcohol Foam Embolization Particles (December 2008) have also received 510(k) marketing clearance for use in uterine fibroid embolization.
POLICYTranscatheter uterine artery embolization for treatment of uterine fibroids or as a treatment of postpartum uterine hemorrhage may be considered medically necessary.
There are no specific criteria for uterine artery embolization regarding the size, location or multiplicity of fibroid tumors. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has suggested the following general criteria for treatment of fibroid tumors:
One repeat transcatheter embolization of uterine arteries to treat persistent symptoms of uterine fibroids after an initial uterine artery embolization may be considered medically necessary (See Policy Guidelines).
Transcatheter embolization for the management of all other indications, including cervical ectopic pregnancy and uterine arteriovenous malformation is considered investigational.
POLICY GUIDELINESOne repeat UAE may be performed when there is documentation of continued symptoms such as bleeding or pain. Repeat procedures may be most appropriate when there are persistent symptoms in combination with findings on imaging of an incomplete initial procedure, as evidenced by continued blood flow to the treated regions. Limited data from case series suggest a high rate of success following repeat procedures for this purpose, with the majority of patients reporting relief of symptoms.
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 HISTORY2/1999: Approved by Medical Policy Advisory Committee
7/16/2001: Hayes report added to the Source(s) section
2/14/2002: Investigational definition added
4/22/2002: Type of Service and Place of Service deleted
5/6/2002: Code Reference section updated
5/2002: Reviewed by MPAC, investigational status remains
8/2002: Reviewed by MPAC, investigational status changed to medically necessary
12/16/2002: Code Reference section updated
8/20/2003: ICD-9 diagnosis code range 218.0-218.9 listed separately
11/5/2003: Code Reference section reviewed; no changes
9/6/2006: Policy reviewed and policy section clarified
3/5/2007: Code Reference section updated per quarterly HCPCS revisions. Added CPT code 37210
1/14/2008: Policy reviewed, no changes
7/18/2008: Anesthesia Coding Policy hyperlink added
1/8/2009: Policy reviewed, no changes
4/27/2010: Policy Description section revised to add laparoscopic bipolar coagulation of uterine vessels and FDA information. Code Reference section was revised to add the following language: "*Some covered procedure codes may have multiple descriptions. Coverage will only be made for covered codes when used for services outlined within the policy statement." Policy statement unchanged.
05/17/2011: Information regarding laparoscopic occlusion was removed from the policy description and policy statement. Policy statement regarding transcatheter uterine artery embolization unchanged. Policy titled changed from "Uterine Artery Embolization for Treatment of Fibroids" to "Occlusion of Uterine Arteries Using Transcatheter Embolization" to reflect the new scope of the policy. Outdated references removed from the Sources section.
09/25/2012: Added treatment of postpartum uterine hemorrhage to the medically necessary policy statement. Policy statement regarding repeat transcatheter embolization was changed from investigational to the following: One repeat transcatheter embolization of uterine arteries to treat persistent symptoms of uterine fibroids after an initial uterine artery embolization may be considered medically necessary with patient selection criteria added to the policy guidelines. Added the following policy statement: Transcatheter embolization for the management of cervical ectopic pregnancy is considered investigational. Added 666.00 - 666.24 to the Covered Codes table.
11/06/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
04/01/2014: Added the following new 2014 CPT code(s) to the Code Reference section: 37243.
09/11/2014: Policy reviewed; description updated. Investigational policy statement updated to state that transcatheter embolization for the management of all other indications, including cervical ectopic pregnancy and uterine arteriovenous malformation is considered investigational. It previously stated: Transcatheter embolization for the management of cervical ectopic pregnancy is considered investigational.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association policy # 4.01.11
CODE REFERENCEThis 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.