Top 10 pulmonary procedures in 2021

Healthy Lung Month is observed every October to raise awareness about lung disease and pulmonary wellness. Lung disease is any problem in the lungs that prevents the lungs from working properly.  The global burden of respiratory diseases is staggering. One type of lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), causes more than 3.2 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Improving the quality of life in patients with pulmonary conditions begins with proper treatment. From pulmonary function tests to treatment for airway obstruction, we’ve compiled a list of the top procedures related to pulmonary diseases based on 2021 claims data.

Top 10 pulmonary procedures with the most claims in 2021

Rank HCPCS/CPT Code HCPCS/CPT Code Description % Total Procedures
1 94760 Noninvasive ear or pulse oximetry for oxygen saturation; single determination 24.7%
2 94640 Airway inhalation treatment 14.4%
3 94010 Breathing capacity test 11.5%
4 94729 Co/membrane diffuse capacity 10.8%
5 94060 Evaluation of wheezing 9.8%
6 94726 Pulmonary function test, plethysmography 7.0%
7 94761 Noninvasive ear or pulse oximetry for oxygen saturation; multiple 3.6%
8 94664 Evaluate patient use of inhaler 2.9%
9 94727 Pulmonary function test by gas 2.9%
10 94618 Pulmonary stress testing 2.4%

Fig. 1 Data is from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsMx product for 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 September 2022.

What were the most common pulmonary procedures performed in 2021?

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) held seven of the top ten positions for most pulmonary procedures performed last year, representing more than 60% of total procedures. Physicians use PFTs to assess the state of the pulmonary system and diagnose and monitor respiratory conditions.

CPT code 94760 (noninvasive ear or pulse oximetry for oxygen saturation; single determination) was the most frequently performed procedure in 2021, accounting for 24.7% of pulmonary procedures. This procedure is used to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.

CPT code 94640 (airway inhalation treatment) came in second, representing 14.4% of pulmonary procedures last year. This procedure code describes the treatment of acute airway obstruction or sputum induction for diagnostic purposes. Inhalation treatments for airway obstruction are an important part of care for patients with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Third on the list, CPT code 94010 (breathing capacity test), accounted for 11.5% of pulmonary procedures performed in 2021. This procedure, which measures airflow during exhalation, is the basis of most pulmonary function testing.

What is a pulmonologist?

A pulmonologist is a physician who specializes in the respiratory system. Pulmonologists diagnose and treat medical conditions related to the lungs and other respiratory system organs. Conditions commonly treated include asthma, COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and more.

Which diagnostic procedures are typically used in pulmonology?

Common pulmonary diagnostic tests include:

  • Bronchoscopy 

  • Chest X-ray 

  • CT scan 

  • Endobronchial ultrasound 

  • Exhaled nitric oxide test 

  • Lung biopsy 

  • Plethysmography 

  • Pulse oximetry 

  • Spirometry 

Learn more

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