CPT Code 81179 | Description & Clinical Information

CPT 81179 describes the laboratory procedure conducted by a technician to identify any alterations in the ataxin 2 (ATXN2) gene, which involves the detection of abnormal alleles with expanded sequences.

Official Description

The CPT book defines CPT code 81179 as: “ATXN2 (ataxin 2) (eg, spinocerebellar ataxia) gene analysis, evaluation to detect abnormal (eg, expanded) alleles”.

Clinical Information

The procedure described by CPT code 81179 is one that laboratory analysts carry out to analyze nucleic acids, using specimens like blood. The process involves several technical steps that begin with extracting nucleic acids through cell lysis and digestion, among other methods. The analyst then increases and stabilizes the quantity of nucleic acid for analysis, using techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the genetic material. Finally, the analyst detects the target genes for analysis.

It is important to note that a single unit of 81179 represents analysis of the ATXN2 gene to detect expanded alleles, which could be due to an enlarged gene segment that repeats the nucleotide sequence CAG far more than is typical. While the test is not limited to detecting this particular condition, clinicians commonly order it to aid in the diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia 2 (SCA2), a heritable disease characterized by poor coordination in movements such as gait, hand, speech, and eye movements. Aside from aiding diagnosis, clinicians may use ATXN2 testing to determine the carrier status of individuals.

In carrying out the procedure, the laboratory analyst must have a deep understanding of laboratory techniques and must be highly skilled in executing all technical steps involved in the process. As the accuracy of the result depends on the skill of the analyst, it is crucial to ensure that laboratories have highly trained personnel who can execute the process with precision.

While the analysis of the ATXN2 gene is vital for detecting spinocerebellar ataxia 2, the procedure is applicable in many other contexts. The use of PCR, for instance, has revolutionized the analysis of nucleic acids, allowing for the diagnosis of several genetic disorders in a highly sensitive and precise manner. Moreover, the application of PCR has also facilitated the genetic analysis of microorganisms, leading to its widespread use in the detection of viral infections and bacterial pathogens.

In conclusion, the analysis of ATXN2 gene through the procedure described by CPT code 81179 is an essential process for the diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia 2, and also aids in carrier status determination. It is a highly technical process that requires skilled laboratorians, and its applications extend far beyond the diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia 2. Its contribution to the diagnosis of several genetic disorders and the detection of infectious diseases has made it a vital tool in modern medical diagnosis.

Return to all the CPT codes for genetic analysis procedures.

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