CPT Code 87116 | Description & Clinical Information

CPT 87116 describes the process in which a lab analyst performs a culture using material from any source and identifies any isolated tubercle or other acid-fast bacilli, such as AFB, to the least specific level, such as genus, which may cause tuberculosis.

Official Description

The CPT book defines CPT code 87116 as: “Culture, tubercle or other acid-fast bacilli (eg, TB, AFB, mycobacteria) any source, with isolation and presumptive identification of isolates”.

Billing Guidelines

To test for concentration, utilize CPT code 87015.

Clinical Information

The procedure describes by CPT code 87116 is a laboratory test used to detect the growth of tubercle bacilli in a patient’s specimen, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The lab analyst carries out a series of technical steps to perform a culture, which involves applying the specimen to a growth medium, typically a test dish containing agar and nutrients. This test is specifically designed to encourage the growth of tubercle bacilli.

The test entails holding the test dish in controlled conditions for a specific period, which is typically 24 hours or a week. During this period, the analyst observes if any microorganisms grow in colonies, which are reproducing groups, on the medium. If AFB colonies grow, the lab analyst will classify the organism to the level of presumptive identification.

The classification involves using any or all of the following colony characteristics: type of growth medium that encourages growth of specific fungi, morphology, or form of the colony, gram stains, or up to three other tests such as catalase, oxidase, indole, or urease. Based on these characteristics, the lab analyst identifies the bacteria to the lowest level of identification, such as genus. For instance, presumptive identification would identify an organism specifically enough to report that it is in the genus Mycobacterium, but not enough to name it to the genus and species level as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Although CPT code 87116 is not limited to a specific condition, clinicians often order this test to aid in the diagnosis of suspected tuberculosis or nontuberculous mycobacterial infections such as Mycobacterium intracellulare that are more common in patients with HIV. The test not only helps establish a diagnosis but also permits prompt initiation of appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

The culture procedure is vital in diagnosing tuberculosis, a contagious bacterial infection of the lungs that can spread to other parts of the body. TB is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of TB include persistent coughing, fever, fatigue, and weight loss. The test can help diagnose the disease early and initiate treatment promptly, hence avoiding further complications.

In conclusion, CPT code 87116 is a laboratory test that helps identify the presence of tubercle bacilli in a patient’s specimen. The test involves a series of technical steps in a controlled environment and relies on the growth of colonies to make a presumptive identification. Clinicians often use this test to help diagnose suspected tuberculosis or nontuberculous mycobacterial infections, thus enabling prompt initiation of appropriate therapy.

Return to all the CPT codes for microbiology culture and typing procedures.

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