Nerve Blocks (Digital, Dental, Peripheral, etc.) FAQ

1. Can I bill for Digital Nerve Blocks?

For payers following CPT guidelines, this service, code 64450 (Injection, anesthetic agent; other peripheral nerve or branch) or any other type of nerve block is not separately coded when performed as a component of a surgical procedure (e.g., laceration repair). In this instance, a digital nerve block is clearly bundled as part of the global surgical package, as outlined in the CPT Introduction to the Surgical section-CPT Surgical Package Definition. Under Medicare's global services package rules, digital nerve blocks have long been bundled when performed as a component of a surgical procedure. For example, when performing a nerve block for a laceration repair of a finger, only the laceration repair should be coded and not the nerve block.

However, digital nerve blocks performed as stand-alone procedures and not part of a surgical package (e.g., for pain control alone) generally remain separately billable under both Medicare and CPT coding principles.

2. Can I bill for Dental Blocks?

A dental block is a billable procedure. CPT 64400 (Injection, anesthetic agent; trigeminal nerve, any division or branch) can be coded when performing associated dental nerve blocks.

The appropriate Evaluation/Management code modified with a -25 modifier may be used in addition to the nerve block code to identify a significant, “separately identifiable” medical service.

3. Some ER physicians are performing peripheral nerve blocks for procedural anesthesia or pain control (e.g., femoral nerve blocks for hip fractures). Are these procedures billable?

Multiple nerve blocks are available in CPT. These codes are dependent on the anatomical location of the nerve being blocked (CPT codes 64400-64530). It is important to be specific in your procedure note as to which nerve is being blocked. For example, when performing a fascia iliaca block to inject the femoral and lateral cutaneous nerve, use the CPT code 64447 [Injection, anesthetic agent (femoral nerve, single)].

What if I use ultrasound guidance in order to perform my nerve blocks?

Generally, using ultrasound guidance to perform a nerve block is also a separately billable procedure. CPT code 76942 [Ultrasonic guidance for needle placement (e.g., biopsy, aspiration, injection, localization device) imaging supervision and interpretation] could be coded, as well as the specific nerve block code.  For additional information, see the ACEP Ultrasound FAQ set.

5. Some physicians in our group use a RAPTIR block when performing procedures on the upper extremities. Is this a billable procedure?

The Retroclavicular Approach to the Infraclavicular Region (RAPTIR) is a single-injection nerve block that may be used for pain control when performing closed reduction of distal radius fractures or similar procedures. See ACEP Now for a more detailed explanation of a RAPTIR block.

The CPT surgical package includes “Local infiltration, metacarpal/metatarsal/digital block or topical anesthesia”; however, a RAPTIR is a regional block as opposed to the included local block and is separately reportable.

6. What CPT codes are used to report a RAPTIR block?

An ED visit that included a RAPTIR block would be coded with the appropriate 9928x E/M code. The CPT code for the procedure (e.g., 25605-54 - Closed treatment of distal radial fracture (e.g., Colles or Smith type) or epiphyseal separation, includes closed treatment of fracture of ulnar styloid, when performed; with manipulation), the CPT code for the injection (64415 - Injection, anesthetic agent; brachial plexus, single) and the CPT code for the ultrasound guidance (76942-26 -Ultrasonic guidance for needle placement (e.g., biopsy, aspiration, injection, localization device), imaging supervision and interpretation).

7. Are trigger point injections performed by the ED physician/QHP a billable procedure?

Trigger point injections are a billable service but seem to be closely scrutinized by payers. While there is no CMS policy at the national level (NCD) regarding trigger point injections, several CMS Medicare contractors have LCDs (Local Carrier Determination) that restrict payment for trigger point injections to specific ICD-10-CM codes. Per an LCD from the CMS website, “Claims without one of these diagnoses will always be denied.”  See the LCD for the list of codes.

Commercial payers may be reluctant to cover trigger point injections as the first choice for pain management, except in cases where joint movement is impaired, the muscle cannot be fully stretched or is locked in a fixed position. 

The best practice is to include documentation that indicates conservative/noninvasive treatment, e.g., oral pain medication, heat/cold treatment, massage therapy, etc., has been tried and failed.

There are two CPT codes for Trigger point injections:

  • 20552-Injection(s); single or multiple trigger point(s), 1 or 2 muscle(s)
  • 20553-Injection(s); single or multiple trigger point(s), 3 or more muscles
    • Do not report 20552, 20553 in conjunction with 20560, 20561 for the same muscle(s)

The codes are based on the number of muscles injected, regardless of how many injections are given. Only one code should be reported per treatment since either code covers multiple injections.

When utilized, ultrasound guidance can be reported in addition to the injection using CPT Code:

  • 76942-Ultrasonic guidance for needle placement (e.g., biopsy, aspiration, injection, localization device), imaging supervision and interpretation

Procedure documentation should include the site of the injection, how many injections were given, and the number of muscles injected.

Updated April 2023



The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has developed the Reimbursement & Coding FAQs and Pearls for informational purposes only.   The FAQs and Pearls have been developed by sources knowledgeable in their fields, reviewed by a committee, and are intended to describe current coding practice. However, ACEP cannot guarantee that the information contained in the FAQs and Pearls is in every respect accurate, complete, or up to date.

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