A Survey of the Prevalence and Practice Patterns of Human Acellular Nerve Allograft Use

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Abstract

Background:

There have been many technical and scientific advances over the last decade in peripheral nerve surgery. Human acellular nerve graft (HANA) has become increasingly popular but current practice patterns among hand surgeons have yet to be defined. Coding practices may not have kept up with this innovation. A 26 question survey of hand surgeons was performed to evaluate the adoption of HANA, and current coding and billing practices. The survey was sent to hand surgeons trained in orthopedic, plastic, general, and neuro surgery. The survey was designed and implemented by the Mayo Clinic Survey Center.

Results:

Four hundred sixty-one responses to the survey were received. Most respondents currently use HANA (70%). Of those surgeons who do use HANA, nearly all use it less than 10 times per month (98%). There was no significant difference in the use of HANA across different specialties. There was a significant difference in HANA use depending on practice type with higher use by those in group private practice (57%) compared with academic practice (28%), solo practice (12%), and other practice environment (3%). There was a significant difference in HANA use depending on the number of years in practice. Those in practice less than 5 years used HANA the most (32%), followed by > 20 years in practice (27%), 6–10 years in practice (16%), 16–20 years in practice (14%), and 11–15 years in practice (11%). When asked the Current Procedural Terminology code they would use to bill for the procedure of choice, the most common response was 64910 (nerve repair with synthetic conduit or vein allograft).

Conclusions:

HANA has surpassed nerve conduit as the traditional gold standard in our study with nearly 70% of hand surgeons using HANA in their practice and a greater percentage of respondents choosing HANA as their first choice to repair as compared with nerve conduit, nerve autograft, or vein graft. There remains confusion regarding appropriate billing practices for the use of HANA. Due to its common use, a Current Procedural Terminology code should specifically designated for the use of HANA in the hand.

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