Codes to Specify the Type of Performed Medical Assistance

In the American healthcare system, organizations use a special set of codes to specify the type of performed medical assistance. Procedures on the skin, subcutaneous and accessory structures are grouped under their own code range. This subheading is divided into the following categories, each one is further separated into subcategories. Additional coding information depends on the exact subcategory of the procedure. These global categories include:

  • incision and drainage;
  • excision – debridement;
  • paring or cutting;
  • biopsy;
  • skin tag removal;
  • benign or malignant lesions;
  • services for nails, either toes or fingers;
  • tissue repair.

The correct category depends on the nature, inclusiveness, and severity (simple, complex, or extensive) of the operation, its size, scale, depth, and method (Sulzberger, n.d.). There are multiple utilities and websites that are able to suggest a valid code for the chosen category. As per Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) guidelines, it is vital for the procedure to match codes with the technique that was used for the operation. Procedures of different levels of complexity or varied parameters must not be grouped under one code.

Excision and destruction, although aiming to achieve a similar result – the removal of the damaged tissue – require a different approach and are to be used when appropriate. Excision implies cutting off a damaged or diseased portion of the tissue, while destruction involves vaporizing or ablating (eroding, freezing, or irradiating) said tissue (Elston, n.d.). It is crucial to specify the exact code of the procedure according to the method that was used during it. This information can be of great importance not only for medical insurance companies but also during the patient’s future medical procedures.


Elston, D. (n.d.). . Walworth Printing. Web.

Sulzberger, S. (n.d.) Coding and Documentation for Minor Procedures. Coding & Compliance Initiatives, Inc. Web.

Surgical procedures on the skin, subcutaneous and accessory structures CPT® Code range 10030-11646. (n.d.). AAPC. Web.

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