What are CPT Debridement Codes?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2016
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CPT debridement codes are a set of numerical codes approved by the American Medical Association or AMA to describe patient care procedures. CPTs cover surgical and non-surgical procedures and supply useful definition for a vast range of medical practices. CPT debridement codes are specific CPT codes related to wound debridement, a process for dealing with burns and other injuries.

Wound debridement is the process of removing non-living or “necrotic” tissue from around a wound area. The risks of necrotic tissue involve the growth of some kinds of bacteria that can be harmful to the body. Also, necrotic tissue sitting around a wound may cause inflammation or develop abscesses from which the living tissue can get infected. For these reasons, those with significant wounds often visit doctor’s offices to get debridement done for keeping themselves healthier and giving the wounds the best chance of healing up well.

Different kinds of debridement work in different ways. Some kinds of debridement are called autolytic: these forms of debridement use the body’s natural responses to dead tissue. Others, called enzymatic debridements, use fast-acting elements to remove tissue. Mechanical debridements, like some kinds of hydrotherapy procedures, achieve debridement using physical strategies, and another class of wound debridement called surgical debridement involves cutting dead tissue away from the wounds.


The CPT debridement codes identify all of these kinds of wound debridement. They also specify more about exactly what is done in a single wound debridement procedure. The CPT debridement codes specify the depth in the skin and underlying tissue at which the wound debridement takes place. These codes also distinguish between actual debridement and “preparations,” as well as indicating where on the body the debridement takes place. All of the CPTs should be applied to the patient record for good accurate record keeping.

These codes are distinguished from ICD codes, which are an international set of codes that provide a diagnosis for a condition. Both CPT and ICD codes are extremely important for accurate medical billing. One reason that medical office workers are so careful to keep CPT and ICD codes on file is that any mistakes can cause issues in the detailed contractual agreements between a medical provider and the large health insurance companies that often end up paying the bills for completed procedures.

When a patient file includes CPT debridement codes, they help to document that patient’s full medical history. The CPTs may be accompanied by pictures of the wound to help show how that person was treated over time. Knowing about CPT codes will help medical workers in a wound care environment to be more capable when it comes to record keeping.


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