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Usage of CPT Index - Instructions

The alphabetic index is not a substitute for the main text of the CPT codebook.

Even if only one code is present, the coder must refer to the main term to ensure that the code is selected accurately and correctly to identify the services rendered.

Main Terms

The index is organized by main terms. Each main term can stand alone or can be followed by up to three modifying terms.

There are four primary classes of main entries,
  • Procedures or Services - E.g, Scopic, Anastomosis, Splint, Opening
  • Organ or Other Anatomical Site - E.g, Knee, Arm, Ear, Tibia, Colon
  • Conditions - E.g, Abscess, Entropion, Tetralogy of Fallot.
  • Synonyms, Eponyms, and Abbreviations. - ECG, EEG, PET, Brock Operations, Clagett Procdures

Modifying Terms

The main term may be followed by up to three indented terms that modify the terms they follow.
EG. The main term "Endoscopy" is subdivided by the anatomical sites in which the procedure is used. And within these anatomical sites, the specific purpose of the procedures is identified.

In the following example, The code for endoscopic removal of a foreign body from the bile duct could be located.
  • Bile Duct
    • Removal
      • Foreign Body........ 43275

Code Ranges

Whenever more than one code applies to a given index entry, a code range is listed. If several inconsequential codes apply, they will be separated by a comma. In the following example, three inconsequential codes apply,
  • Esophagus
    • Reconstruction ......... 43300, 43310, 43313
If three or more sequential codes apply, they will be separated by a hyphen. If more than one code range applies the code ranges will be separated by a comma as in the following example,
  • Anesthesia
    • Forearm...............01810-01820, 01830-01860


As a space-saving convention, certain terms carry meaning inferred from the context. This convention is primarily used when a procedure or service is listed as a subterm.

  • Knee
    • Exploration .............. 27310,27331

Pathology & Laboratory Codes

The pathology and Laboratory listing in the index presents the headings, subheadings, procedures, and analytes in the Pathology and Laboratory action of the CPT codebook.

Analytes are either listed alphabetically or cross-referenced to the index main heads where they are alphabetically listed.

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