Cracking the Code

Coding Bone and Joint Studies

Bone and joint studies are performed to determine bone or joint abnormalities—whether the abnormality is the length of the bone, age of the bone, the composition of the bone, or how the joint moves when stress is applied.

A bone age study is typically performed on children to estimate the maturity of a child’s skeletal system, based on the appearance of the growth plate in the bone. A bone length study is used to determine discrepancies in limb length.

A bone density scan, also known as a DEXA scan, helps to evaluate the risk of bone fractures (which often are the result of osteoporosis). DEXA scans are coded based on the location of the body part being scanned. A trabecular bone score study measures the structure of the bone and is used to evaluate fracture risk.

Q: A DXA body composition study is done on a patient. What is the CPT code?
A: 76499. Rationale: DEXA studies are indexed under Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) in the CPT code range 77080-77086. Under 77081, you will see instructions stating to use 76499 for a DXA body composition study.
Reference: FY 2023 CPT Coding Book, CPT Assist.
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