Healthcare Insights

Top 10 musculoskeletal procedure codes

The musculoskeletal system is an integral part of the human body as it protects us and helps us to move. As people age, they can experience issues related to this system, such as bone fractures or arthritis. Understanding musculoskeletal conditions and procedures will be increasingly important as the U.S. population continues to age.

In recognition of musculoskeletal month, we put together a list of the top procedure codes related to the musculoskeletal system.

Top 10 musculoskeletal system procedures by volume in 2021

RankCPT codeCPT description# total proceduresTotal chargesExplore dataset
120610Drain/injection major joint/bursa without ultrasound5,020,496$1,387,933,551 Explore
220550Injection tendon sheath/ligament973,442$191,324,989 Explore
320611Drain/injection joint/bursa with ultrasound908,671$361,119,737 Explore
427447Total knee arthroplasty600,266$7,020,254,839 Explore
520553Inject trigger points 3 or more muscles533,225$178,117,718 Explore
620605Drain/injection intermediate joint/bursa without ultrasound467,369$101,609,100 Explore
729125Apply forearm splint449,507$145,419,110 Explore
820552Injection trigger point 1/2 muscle400,125$98,042,290 Explore
920600Drain/injection small joint/bursa without ultrasound393,756$88,990,217 Explore
1029581Apply multi-layer compression system lower leg379,581$139,564,361 Explore

Fig. 1 Data is from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsMx product. Data represents full calendar year 2021. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and is updated monthly. Data is accurate as of May 2022.

Which musculoskeletal CPT code had the most procedures?

Code 20610, drain/injection major joint/bursa without ultrasound, had the most procedures with 5,020,496. In second was code 20550, injection tendon sheath/ligament, with 973,442 procedures, and in third was code 20611, drain/injection joint/bursa with ultrasound, with 908,671 procedures.

Four codes on the list, 20610, 20611, 20605 and 20600, relate to the arthrocentesis procedure. They account for around 67% of total procedures among the top 10 codes.

Arthrocentesis is a procedure in which a healthcare provider removes the synovial fluid in the joint space or injects drugs into the joint space. Codes 20610, 20605 and 20600 describe arthrocentesis of major, intermediate and small joints, respectively. Providers use arthrocentesis to diagnose arthritis, a common condition affecting around 24% of adults in the U.S.

Across the top 10 musculoskeletal system procedure codes, there was an average of 1,012,644 procedures and a total of 10,126,438 procedures.

Which musculoskeletal CPT code had the most charges?

Code 27447, total knee arthroplasty, had the most charges with $7,020,254,839. Total knee arthroplasty, also known as a total knee replacement, is a fairly common surgical procedure. In fact, around 4.7 million people in the U.S. have had a total knee arthroplasty.  

Since total knee arthroplasty is a major surgery, it does tend to carry a higher charge than other procedures on the list. As of 2020, the total average cost of a total knee arthroplasty was between $30,000 and $50,000.

What is the musculoskeletal system?

The musculoskeletal system is the collection of bones, ligaments, cartilage, connective tissue and tendons in the body. These parts of the skeleton help support soft tissues, muscles and body weight. They also allow people to move and maintain posture.

Musculoskeletal pain can arise for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Injury
  • Aging
  • Disease
  • Birth defects

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