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CPT Code 88342 | Description, Procedure & Billing Guidelines (2022)

Use CPT 88342 for an initial single antibody stain on (a) slide/slides from a single specimen followed by interpretation for a pathologic diagnosis.

1. What Is CPT Code 88342?

CPT 88342 covers a procedure in which a lab analyst uses a single patient specimen (for example, a tumor tissue) and applies an initial single antibody stain on a slide(s).

A pathologist (or another qualified provider) uses the stained slide(s) for interpretation as part of a pathologic diagnosis.

2. Description

The CPT book defines CPT code 88342 as: “Immunohistochemistry or immunocytochemistry, per specimen; initial single antibody stain procedure.”

3. Procedure

The 88342 CPT code procedure starts with a lab analyst preparing stained slides with a specialized stain. This can be ICC (immunocytochemistry) or IHC (immunohistochemistry).

The specimen can be;

  • histologic; (e.g., tissue);
  • hematologic (e.g., blood smear); or
  • cytologic (e.g., aspirated cells).

ICC stains are used on cells, and IHC stains for tissue. Both include an antibody that attaches itself to a target antigen on the slide(s).

The antibody-antigen is made visible with a marker. This can be a fluorescent molecule or an enzyme that changes color.

Then, the lab analyst can use a typical specimen, cut it, and add the tissue to the slides. Next, they add reagents to the slides and prepare them for the stain. Finally, they apply the initial single antibody stain.

A pathologist takes over from there. They use a microscope to look at the antibody-stained slides. The findings are interpreted, and a pathologic diagnosis is reached. Finally, the pathologist reports the results to the ordering clinician.

TIP: You can find all the CPT codes for surgical pathology here.

4. Billing Guidelines

Do not bill CPT 88342 if the pathologist counts or estimates the number of stained cells. You can use CPT 88360 or CPT 88361 instead.

The 88342 CPT code is often ordered as a test by providers for diagnosing abnormal cells in conditions such as cancer. 

CPT code 88342 describes just one antibody for a stain. Do not use this code for multiple antibodies. Instead, report CPT code 88344.

The lab analyst may use the same specimen for other stains on the slides. You may use add-on code 88341 in that case for every additional stain.

CPT code 88342 is a parent code for add-on codes CPT 88341 and CPT code 88344.

CPT 88342 can only be used for qualitative ICC or IHC stains. In case of quantitative or semiquantitative IHC or ICC staining, use CPT 88360 or CPT 88361.

You can report CPT code 88342 only once per specimen, regardless of the number of blocks.

4.1 Is CPT Code 88342 A Global Service?

Yes, CPT 88342 is a global service. This means it can be reported without a modifier because the technical and professional components are included in this procedure.

4.2 How Do You Bill The Professional Component For CPT 88342?

As mentioned before, CPT 88342 is a global service. Therefore, the professional and technical components are included. However, if you bill the professional component only, you can append modifier 26 to the claim.

5. Resources

CPT Professional 2022

https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/article.aspx?articleId=57611

https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/article.aspx?articleId=54271&ver=16

https://www.leicabiosystems.com/knowledge-pathway/immunohistochemistry-an-overview-steps-to-better-ihc-staining/

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