CPT 61796, 77373, 77371 - Stereotactic Radiosurgery/Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy: Cranial Lesions

The adjective “Stereotactic” describes a procedure during which a target lesion is localized relative to a fixed three-dimensional reference system such as a rigid head frame affixed to a patient, fixed bony landmarks, a system of implanted fiducial markers or other similar system. This type of localization procedure allows physicians to perform image-guided procedures with a high degree of anatomic accuracy and precision. 

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) couples this anatomic accuracy and reproducibility with very high doses of highly precise, externally generated ionizing radiation, thereby maximizing the ablative effect on the target(s) while minimizing collateral damage to adjacent tissues. SBRT requires computer-assisted, three-dimensional planning and delivery with stereotactic and convergent-beam technologies, including, but not limited to, multiple convergent cobalt sources (e.g., Gamma Knife®), protons, multiple, coplanar or non-coplanar photon arcs or angles (e.g., XKnife®), fixed photon arcs or image-directed robotic devices (e.g., CyberKnife®) that meet the criteria.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a distinct discipline that utilizes externally generated ionizing radiation in certain cases to inactivate or eradicate a defined target(s) in the head or spine without the need to make an incision. The target is defined by high-resolution stereotactic imaging. Technologies that are used to perform SRS include linear accelerators, particle beam accelerators and multi-source Cobalt-60 units. In order to enhance precision, various devices may incorporate robotics and real-time imaging.
To assure quality of patient care, the procedure involves a multidisciplinary team consisting of a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist and medical physicist. SRS typically is performed in a single session using a rigidly attached stereotactic guiding device, other immobilization technology and/or a stereotactic-guidance system, but can be performed in a limited number of sessions up to a maximum of five. When utilized in the later situation (two to five fractions), therapy is considered SBRT.

Regardless of the number of sessions, both SBRT and SRS procedures for cranial lesions include the following components:
  • Position stabilization (attachment of a frame or frameless).
  • Imaging for localization (Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), angiography, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), etc.).
  • Computer-assisted tumor localization (i.e., image guidance).
  • Treatment planning – number of isocenters, number, placement and length of arcs or angles, beam size and weight, etc.
  • Isodose distributions, dosage prescription and calculation.
  • Setup and accuracy verification testing.
  • Simulation of prescribed arcs or fixed portals.
  • Radiation treatment delivery.
Indications for SRS/SBRT of cranial lesions:
  • Primary central nervous system malignancies, generally under 5 cm.
  • Primary and secondary tumors involving the brain or spine parenchyma, meninges/dura or immediately adjacent boney structures.
  • Benign brain tumors and spinal tumors such as meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas and pineal cytomas.
  • Cranial arteriovenous malformations and hemangiomas.
  • Other cranial non-neoplastic conditions for which it has been proven effective, e.g., movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and other disabling tremor that are refractory to conventional therapy, such as severe, sustained trigeminal neuralgia not responsive to other modalities.
  • As a boost treatment for larger cranial or spinal lesions that have been treated initially with external beam radiation therapy or surgery (i.e., grade III and IV gliomas, oligodendrogliomas, sarcomas, chondrosarcomas, chordomas and nasopharyngeal or paranasal sinus malignancies).
  • Metastatic brain or spine lesions, generally limited in number, with stable systemic disease, Karnofsky Performance Status 70 or greater (or expected to return to 70 or greater with treatment) and otherwise reasonable survival expectations.
  • Relapse in a previously irradiated cranial or spinal field where the additional stereotactic precision is required to avoid unacceptable vital tissue radiation.

  • Medicare would not expect to provide payment for the following:
    • Treatment for anything other than a severe symptom or serious threat to life or critical functions, not responsive or reasonably amenable to another therapy.
    • Treatment unlikely to result in functional improvement or clinically meaningful disease stabilization, not otherwise achievable.
    • Patients with wide-spread cerebral or extra-cranial metastases.
    • Patients with poor performance status (Karnofsky Performance Status less than 40), – see Karnofsky Performance Status below.
    • A claim for stereotactic cingulotomy as a means of psychotherapy, considered investigational, per Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, IOM Pub. 100-03, Chapter 1, Part 2, Section 160.4 (formerly CIM 35-84).
For ICD-9-CM diagnosis code 333.1, essential tremor, coverage is limited to the patient who cannot be controlled with medication, has major systemic disease or coagulopathy, and who is unwilling or unsuited for open surgery. Coverage is further limited to unilateral thalamotomy. Gamma Knife® pallidotomy remains non-covered and will be denied.

Karnofsky Performance Scale (Perez and Brady, p 225)
100 Normal; no complaints, no evidence of disease
90 Able to carry on normal activity; minor signs or symptoms of disease
80 Normal activity with effort; some signs or symptoms of disease
70 Cares for self; unable to carry on normal activity or to do active work
60 Requires occasional assistance but is able to care for most needs
50 Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care
40 Disabled; requires special care and assistance
30 Severely disabled; hospitalization is indicated although death not imminent
20 Very sick; hospitalization necessary; active supportive treatment is necessary
10 Moribund, fatal processes progressing rapidly
0 Dead
Notice: This LCD imposes diagnosis limitations that support diagnosis to procedure code automated denials. However, services performed for any given diagnosis must meet all of the indications and limitations stated in this policy, the general requirements for medical necessity as stated in CMS payment policy manuals, any and all existing CMS national coverage determinations, and all Medicare payment rules.

Contractors shall consider a service to be reasonable and necessary if the contractor determines that the service is:
  • Safe and effective.
  • Not experimental or investigational (exception: routine costs of qualifying clinical trial services with dates of service on or after September 19, 2000, which meet the requirements of the clinical trials NCD are considered reasonable and necessary).
  • Appropriate, including the duration and frequency that is considered appropriate for the service, in terms of whether it is:
    • Furnished in accordance with accepted standards of medical practice for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s condition or to improve the function of a malformed body member.
    • Furnished in a setting appropriate to the patient’s medical needs and condition.
    • Ordered and furnished by qualified personnel.
    • One that meets, but does not exceed, the patient’s medical need.
    • At least as beneficial as an existing and available medically appropriate alternative.

Bill Type Codes
Contractors may specify Bill Types to help providers identify those Bill Types typically used to report this service. Absence of a Bill Type does not guarantee that the policy does not apply to that Bill Type. Complete absence of all Bill Types indicates that coverage is not influenced by Bill Type and the policy should be assumed to apply equally to all claims.
12X, 13X, 85X

Revenue Codes
Contractors may specify Revenue Codes to help providers identify those Revenue Codes typically used to report this service. In most instances, Revenue Codes are purely advisory; unless specified in the policy, services reported under other Revenue Codes are equally subject to this coverage determination. Complete absence of all Revenue Codes indicates that coverage is not influenced by Revenue Code and the policy should be assumed to apply equally to all Revenue Codes.

Note: TrailBlazer has identified the Bill Type and Revenue Codes applicable for use with the CPT/HCPCS codes included in this LCD. Providers are reminded that not all CPT/HCPCS codes listed can be billed with all Bill Type and/orRevenue Codes listed. CPT/HCPCS codes are required to be billed with specific Bill Type and Revenue Codes. Providers are encouraged to refer to the CMS Internet-Only Manual Publication 100-04, Claims Processing Manual, for further guidance.
0333, 0360

 Billing for Corneal Tissue

Corneal tissue will be paid on a cost basis, not under OPPS, only when it is used in a corneal transplant procedure described by one of the following Procedure  codes: 65710, 65730, 65750, 65755, 65756, 65765, 65767, and any successor code or new code describing a new type of corneal transplant procedure that uses eye banked corneal tissue. In all other procedures cornea tissue is packaged. To receive cost based reimbursement hospitals must bill charges for corneal tissue using HCPCS code V2785.

Billing Codes for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

 Billing Instructions for IMRT Planning and Delivery

Payment for the services identified by Procedure  codes 77014, 77280, 77285, 77290, 77295, 77306 through 77321, 77331, and 77370 are included in the APC payment for Procedure  code 77301 (IMRT planning). These codes should not be reported in addition to Procedure  code 77301 when provided prior to or as part of the development of the IMRT plan.

 Billing for Multi-Source Photon (Cobalt 60-Based) Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) Planning and Delivery

Effective for services furnished on or after January 1, 2014, hospitals must report SRS planning and delivery services using only the Procedure  codes that accurately describe the service furnished. For the delivery services, hospitals must report Procedure  code 77371, 77372, or 77373.

Procedure  Code        Long Descriptor


Radiation treatment delivery, stereotactic radiosurgery (srs), complete course of treatment of cranial lesion(s) consisting of 1 session; multi-source cobalt 60 based


Radiation treatment delivery, stereotactic radiosurgery (srs), complete course of treatment of cranial lesion(s) consisting of 1 session; linear accelerator based


Stereotactic body radiation therapy, treatment delivery, per fraction to 1 or more lesions, including image guidance, entire course not to exceed 5 fractions

As instructed in the CY 2014 OPPS/ASC final rule, Procedure  code 77371 is to be used only for single session cranial SRS cases performed with a Cobalt-60 device, and Procedure  code 77372 is to be used only for single session cranial SRS cases performed with a linac-based device. The term “cranial” means that the pathological lesion(s) that are the target of the radiation is located in the patient’s cranium or head. The term “single session” means that the entire intracranial lesion(s) that comprise the patient’s diagnosis are treated in their entirety during a single treatment session on a single day. Procedure  code 77372 is never to be used for the first fraction or any other fraction of a fractionated SRS treatment. Procedure  code 77372 is to be used only for single session cranial linac-based SRS treatment. Fractionated SRS treatment is any SRS delivery service requiring more than a single session of SRS treatment for a cranial lesion, up to a total of no more than five fractions, and one to five sessions (but no more than five) for non-cranial lesions. Procedure  code 77373 is to be used for any fraction (including the first fraction) in any series of fractionated treatments, regardless of the anatomical location of the lesion or lesions being radiated. Fractionated cranial SRS is any cranial SRS that exceeds one treatment session and fractionated non-cranial SRS is any non-cranial SRS, regardless of the number of fractions but never more than five. Therefore, Procedure  code 77373 is the exclusive code (and the use of no other SRS treatment delivery code is permitted) for any and all fractionated SRS treatment services delivered anywhere in the body, including, but not limited to, the cranium or head. 77372 is not to be used for the first fraction of a fractionated cranial SRS treatment series and must only be used in cranial SRS when there is a single treatment session to treat the patient’s entire condition.

In addition, for the planning services, hospitals must report the specific Procedure  code that accurately describes the service provided. The planning services may include but are not limited to Procedure  code 77290, 77295, 77300, 77334, or 77370.

Procedure  Code             Long Descriptor


Therapeutic radiology simulation-aided field setting; complex


Therapeutic radiology simulation-aided field setting; 3-dimensional


Basic radiation dosimetry calculation, central axis depth dose calculation, tdf, nsd, gap calculation, off axis factor, tissue inhomogeneity factors, calculation of non-ionizing radiation surface and depth dose, as required during course of treatment, only when prescribed by the treating physician


Treatment devices, design and construction; complex (irregular blocks, special shields, compensators, wedges, molds or casts)


Special medical radiation physics consultation

Effective for cranial single session stereotactic radiosurgery procedures (Procedure  code 77371 or 77372) furnished on or after January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2017, costs for certain adjunctive services (e.g., planning and preparation) are not factored into the APC payment rate for APC 5627 (Level 7 Radiation Therapy). Rather, the ten planning and preparation codes listed in table below, will be paid according to their assigned status indicator when furnished 30 days prior or 30 days post SRS treatment delivery.

In addition, hospitals must report modifier “CP” (Adjunctive service related to a procedure assigned to a comprehensive ambulatory payment classification [C-APC] procedure) on TOB 13X claims for any other services (excluding the ten codes in table below) that are adjunctive or related to SRS treatment but billed on a different claim and within either 30 days prior or 30 days after the date of service for either Procedure  code 77371 (Radiation treatment delivery, stereotactic radiosurgery, complete course of treatment cranial lesion(s) consisting of 1 session; multi-source Cobalt 60-based) or Procedure  code 77372 (Linear accelerator based). The “CP” modifier need not be reported with the ten planning and preparation Procedure  codes table below. Adjunctive/related services include but are not necessarily limited to imaging, clinical treatment  planning/preparation, and consultations. Any service related to the SRS delivery should have the CP modifier appended. We would not expect the “CP” modifier to be reported with services such as chemotherapy administration as this is considered to be a distinct service that is not directly adjunctive, integral, or dependent on delivery of SRS treatment.

Providers are reminded to refer to the long descriptors of the CPT codes in their CPT books. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require the use of short CPT descriptors in policies published on the Web.
Srs, cranial lesion simple
Srs, cran les simple, addl
Srs, cranial lesion complex
Srs, cran les complex, addl
Apply srs headframe add-on
Srs, spinal lesion
Srs, spinal lesion, addl
Srs, multisource
Srs, linear based
Sbrt delivery*
*Use for treatment of cranial lesion, two to five fractions.
Stereotactic radiation trmt
Sbrt management*
*Use for cranial lesion treatment management, two to five fractions.
Image-guided robotic linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery, complete course of therapy in one session or first session of fractionated treatment
Image-guided robotic linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery, delivery including collimator changes and custom plugging, fractionated treatment, all lesions, per session, second through fifth sessions, maximum five sessions per course of treatment
ICD-9-CM Codes That Support Medical Necessity
The CPT/HCPCS codes included in this LCD will be subjected to “procedure to diagnosis” editing. The following lists include only those diagnoses for which the identified CPT/HCPCS procedures are covered. If a covered diagnosis is not on the claim, the edit will automatically deny the service as not medically necessary.
Medicare is establishing the following limited coverage for CPT/HCPCS codes 61796, 61797, 61798, 61799, 61800, 63620, 63621, 77371, 77372, 77373, 77432, 77435, G0339 and G0340:
Covered for:
Malignant neoplasm of nasopharynx
Malignant neoplasm of nasopharynx
Malignant neoplasm of nasal cavities, middle ear and accessory sinuses
Malignant neoplasm of nasal cavities, middle ear and accessory sinuses
Malignant neoplasm of eye
Malignant neoplasm of brain
Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified parts of nervous system
Malignant neoplasm of other endocrine glands and related structures
Aortic body and other paraganglia
Secondary malignant neoplasm of other sites
Other (Other specified sites)
Benign neoplasm of brain and other parts of nervous system
Benign neoplasm of other endocrine glands and related structures
Benign neoplasm of aortic body and other paraganglia
Of intracranial structures (Hemangioma any site)
Carcinoma in situ of other specified sites
Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of endocrine glands and nervous system
Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of endocrine glands and nervous system
Neoplasms of unspecific nature
Neoplasms of unspecified nature, retina and choroid
Neoplasms of unspecified nature, other specified sites
Paralysis agitans
Essential and other specified forms of tremor
Note: Code 333.1 is limited to the patient who cannot be controlled with medication, has major systemic disease or coagulopathy, and who is unwilling or unsuited for open surgery.
Generalized convulsive epilepsy
Grand mal status epileptic
Epilepsy unspecified with intractable epilepsy
Trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal nerve disorders
Facial nerve disorders
Facial nerve disorders
Disorders of cranial nerve
Unspecific disorder of cranial nerves
Congenial anomalies of cerebrovascular system
Effects of radiation unspecified
Note: Code 333.1 may only be used where prior radiation therapy to the site is the governing factor necessitating SRS in lieu of other radiotherapy. An ICD-9-CM code for the anatomic diagnosis must also be used.
* ICD-9-CM codes 198.4, 198.5, 198.89, 234.8, 237.5, 237.6, 239.6, 239.7, 239.81, 239.89, 333.1, 352.0, 352.1, 352.2, 352.3, 352.4, 352.5, 352.6, 352.9 and 747.81 are all limited to use for lesions occurring either above the neck or in the spine. 

Note: Providers should continue to submit ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes without decimals on their claim forms and electronic claims.

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