Question:

What is the difference between CPT® 87070 and 87071? How do you determine which one to use?

Answer:

First, consider the descriptions:

87070 Culture, bacterial; any other source except urine, blood or stool, aerobic, with isolation and presumptive identification of isolates
87071 quantitative, aerobic with isolation and presumptive identification of isolates, any source except urine, blood or stool

Code 87070 represents the usual culture procedure for specimens other than blood, fecal or urine. The culture will be plated using a standard quadrant streak plate technique, typically using a culture swab, to apply the specimen to the Petri plate. After incubation, the culture will be evaluated for growth, and the result will be reported as either a qualitative or semi-quantitative value.

A quantitative culture as defined by 87071 is not routine in the microbiology laboratory and will be specifically requested. Department protocol for specimen processing will typically list the specimen sources to be cultured using quantitative technique. The specimen sources are typically a body fluid, deep wound or tissue sample placed in a special preservative, medium or fluid for quantitative culture. Using a specific technique for isolation of pathogens, the specimen will be plated using a calibrated loop or other measured sample such as 0.1 ml of fluid. After incubation, if there is growth, a colony count will be determined, and the result will be reported as a quantitated value.


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Fee schedules, relative value units, conversion factors and/or related components are not assigned by the AMA, are not part of CPT, and the AMA is not recommending their use. The AMA does not directly or indirectly practice medicine or dispense medical services. The AMA assumes no liability for data contained or not contained herein.

CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.