Interventional radiology (IR) is notorious for being one of the most complex specialties to code for several reasons. Vascular interventional radiology procedures often require multiple CPT® codes to accurately report the procedure performed and the coding rules associated with IR procedures can be complex and are quite varied from procedure to procedure. IR coding also requires extensive knowledge of the vascular system.
Types of Procedures
Interventional radiologists are known for performing procedures under radiological guidance. These procedures are mostly minimally invasive procedures performed for either diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
Procedures performed by interventional radiologists include: diagnostic angiography/venography, angioplasty, stent, atherectomy, embolization, thrombectomy, thrombolysis, infusion therapy, IVC filters, TIPS, venous organ blood sampling, transcatheter foreign body removal, dialysis circuit coding, central venous access devices, tunneled peritoneal catheters, endovascular repair, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, facet joint injections, nerve blocks, epidural injections, epidurography, discography, myelography, lumbar puncture, urinary procedures, gastrointestinal procedures, biliary procedures, biopsy, drainage, aspiration, sclerotherapy, ablation, and arthrography.
There are also interventional cardiology procedures that sometimes get grouped under the umbrella of interventional radiology coding including: diagnostic cardiac catheterization, coronary angioplasty, coronary stent, coronary atherectomy, and coronary thrombectomy.
Cardiologists and vascular surgeons may also perform some of the procedures that are performed by interventional radiologists.
Interventional radiology coders must navigate through all chapters of the CPT® manual to assign codes for the wide variety of procedures performed by interventional radiologists.
Currently there are two certifications available for interventional radiology – CIRCC®, offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the RCCIR offered by the Radiology Coding Certification Board (RCCB®). The CIRCC® has been around for almost 2 decades and the RCCIR has been in existence for less than half the time although it is not widely held or widely recognized at this time.
The most common job settings for interventional radiology coders include: physician offices, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based labs, billing companies and coding vendors.
Although interventional radiology is one of the higher paid specialties, as with any type of coding position, there is a wide variation in salary range depending upon many factors including where one resides, years of experience as well as type of employer. Generally, I have observed salary ranges from $55,000 – $90,000 per year. As of Jan 11, 2023, Zip Recruiter reported the average annual pay for an Interventional Radiology Coder in the United States as $91,457 a year, with the majority being paid between $54,000 – $106,000 per year.
Interventional radiology coding is a specialty filled with many opportunities, but it takes time to master this complex specialty. Twenty-three years ago, I set out to learn interventional radiology coding and gave up many times because I was always so lost and confused, but seventeen years ago, after connecting with the right instructor, it finally started to click and I decided once and for all I was going to master interventional radiology coding! It took me an entire year of coding IR procedures before I became comfortable coding most procedures I saw on a daily basis. As of this writing I have 17 years of interventional radiology coding experience behind me and am known as a subject matter expert in this area. I am so glad I didn’t give up! More than anything I love helping other coders master interventional radiology coding and to accomplish that, many years ago I wrote a reference manual Cracking the IR Code: Your Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Interventional Radiology Coding and created a comprehensive online training course for those wanting to learn interventional radiology coding. I wrote the book and designed the course with the novice IR coder in mind. If you have been thinking about learning IR coding, I encourage you to check out these resources.
Want to learn more about becoming an interventional radiology coder? Check out my podcast episode Who Wants To Be An IR Coder? (Episode 2)