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Bronchial Alveolar Lavage


Question

Can you tell me the difference between cell washing in CPT 31622 and bronchial alveolar lavage in CPT 31624? 

Answer

Here is information from CPT Assistant, September 2004, pages 8-9:

 

"Code 31624, Bronchoscopy, rigid or flexible, with or without fluoroscopic guidance; with bronchial alveolar lavage, describes bronchoscopy with alveolar lavage, which is not the same as routine "washings." Bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) allows the recovery of cells as well as noncellular components from the epithelial surface of the lower respiratory tract. This differs significantly from washings, which refer only to the aspiration of secretions or small amounts of instilled saline from larger airways. Bronchial alveolar lavage involves repeated instillations of sterile saline occurring in aliquots with aspiration into one or more containers. Large amounts of saline are pushed into the airway and then recovered by suction. Sequential and separate aspirations are numbered for laboratory testing. This particular type of bronchoscopy aids in the diagnoses of unusual infections in immunocompromised hosts and guides therapy in chronic inflammatory or fibrotic disorders such as pulmonary fibrosis and rheumatoid lung disease."


Disclaimer: All articles intended for general guidance only and not as a recommendation for a specific situation. Readers should consult an official source (AHA, AMA, etc.) or a qualified attorney for specific legal guidance.

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