Question on CPT Code Count for Flow Cytometry

Tom Mchugh mchugh at pangloss.ucsf.EDU
Fri Jul 12 16:53:50 EST 1996

William W. Ward, Ph.D., Wilford Hall Medical Center/PSLCI, wrote:
>I work in an Air Force medical center.  Last October we switched to using CPT
>codes for counting our workload in place of the CAP Workload Recording System. 
>My question is this:  What is the unit of count?  For those of you in the
>billing business, do you count each clone, each tube, or each result?  For
>instance, if you were running a three-color experiment with CD3/CD4/CD8 and
>reported results for CD3+/CD4+ and CD3+/CD8+, would this count as 3 (clones), 1
>(tube), or 2 (results)?
>Thanks for your help.
>Bill Ward
>Immunology & Molecular Diagnostics
>Department of Pathology
>Wilford Hall Medical Center
The CPT codes are for billing purposes and do not have units (workload
or otherwise) associated with them. Since CAP stopped assigning new
workload most people are left wondering what to use. We however use CPT
just for billing purposes.
We use 86359 for CD3 (one code regardless if we report as % or #/L or
both), we use 86360 for reporting CD4 and CD8 with or without a CD4:CD8
ratio (subsets as % or # of cells/L). Any other clones we run we use 88180
(flow cytometry, each cell surface marker). For a panel in which we
report CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19, CD16+56 (and run isotype controls and CD45
and CD14; all in 2-color) we use:

86359 for CD3 cells
86360 for CD4 and CD8 cells
88180 for CD19 cells
88180 for CD16+CD56 cells

Tom McHugh
Dept Lab Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
mchugh at

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