Local Coverage Determination (LCD)

Cardiovascular Nuclear Medicine


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Proposed LCD
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Document Note

Note History

Contractor Information

LCD Information

Document Information

Source LCD ID
Original ICD-9 LCD ID
Not Applicable
LCD Title
Cardiovascular Nuclear Medicine
Proposed LCD in Comment Period
Source Proposed LCD
Original Effective Date
For services performed on or after 10/01/2015
Revision Effective Date
For services performed on or after 01/01/2021
Revision Ending Date
Retirement Date
Notice Period Start Date
Notice Period End Date
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Issue Description

Indications of coverage for cardiovascular nuclear imaging

Issue - Explanation of Change Between Proposed LCD and Final LCD

CMS National Coverage Policy

Language quoted from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) and coverage provisions in interpretive manuals is italicized throughout the policy. NCDs and coverage provisions in interpretive manuals are not subject to the Local Coverage Determination (LCD) Review Process (42 CFR 405.860[b] and 42 CFR 426 [Subpart D]). In addition, an administrative law judge may not review an NCD. See Section 1869(f)(1)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act.

Unless otherwise specified, italicized text represents quotation from one or more of the following CMS sources:

Title XVIII of the Social Security Act (SSA):

Section 1862(a)(1)(A) excludes expenses incurred for items or services which are not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member.

Section 1833(e) prohibits Medicare payment for any claim which lacks the necessary information to process the claim.

Code of Federal Regulations:

42 CFR Section 410.32 indicates that diagnostic tests may only be ordered by the treating physician (or other treating practitioner acting within the scope of his or her license and Medicare requirements) who furnishes a consultation or treats a beneficiary for a specific medical problem and who uses the results in the management of the beneficiary's specific medical problem. Tests not ordered by the physician (or other qualified non-physician provider) who is treating the beneficiary are not reasonable and necessary (see Sec. 411.15(k)(1) of this chapter).

CMS Publications:

CMS Publication 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing, Chapter 12:

70: Payment conditions for radiology services

CMS Publication 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing, Chapter 13:

20: Payment conditions for radiology services

50: Payment for the supply of a radiopharmaceutical diagnostic imaging agent and/or pharmacologic stressing agent with diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures.

90: Services of portable X-Ray suppliers

Coverage Guidance

Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity


Cardiovascular nuclear imaging employs non-invasive techniques to assess alterations in coronary artery flow, and ventricular function.

The specific imaging technique (perfusion versus ventricular function) and the reason for the imaging determine which radionuclide agent is employed. A myocardial perfusion study utilizes an imaging isotope agent that reflects segmental and global myocardial blood flow and uptake, the interpretation of which is used to make inference about the presence of scar and ischemia.

Ventricular function studies utilize specific imaging isotopes to outline the borders of the ventricular endocardium, or to identify the ventricular blood pool independent of the surrounding myocardium. The motion of the left ventricle, synchronized with the electrocardiogram, is used to generate wall motion and ejection fraction information.

These tests may be performed at rest and during exercise, or with pharmacologic intervention when exercise cannot be performed. The acquisition of the images may be planar (single plane) or by multiple planes with computer integration, SPECT (single-photon emission computer tomography).

Cardiovascular nuclear imaging is indicated for the following:

Assessment of the functional and prognostic importance of angina;

Diagnostic evaluation of patients with chest pain and uninterpretable or equivocal ECG changes caused by drugs, bundle branch block, or left ventricular hypertrophy;

Assessment of congenital anomalies of coronary arteries;

Risk assessment or re-evaluation of disease in patients who are asymptomatic or have stable symptoms, with known atherosclerotic heart disease on catheterization or SPECT perfusion imaging, who have not had a revascularization procedure within the past two years;

Detection of coronary artery disease in patients, without chest pain syndrome, with new-onset of diagnosed heart failure or left ventricular systolic dysfunction;

Evaluation of ischemic versus non-ischemic cardiomyopathy when cardiac catheterization / coronary angiography are not planned;

Evaluation of myocardial perfusion and/or function before and after coronary artery bypass surgery or other re-perfusion procedures;

Quantification and surveillance of myocardial infarction and prognostication in patients with infarction;

Preoperative assessment for non-cardiac surgery, when used to determine risk for surgery and/or perioperative management in:

  • patients with minor or intermediate clinical risk predictors and poor functional capacity;
  • patients with intermediate or high likelihood of coronary heart disease, or
  • patients with poor functional capacity undergoing high risk non-cardiac surgery;

The "ACA/AHA 2007 Guidelines on Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation and Care for Non-Cardiac Surgery" (JACC 2007; 50:e159-e242) provides this information:

High risk surgery: aortic and peripheral vascular surgery

Intermediate risk surgery: intraperitoneal and intrathoracic surgery, carotid endarterectomy, head & neck surgery, orthopedic surgery, prostate surgery.

Low risk surgery: endoscopic procedures, superficial surgery, cataract surgery, breast surgery, ambulatory surgery

Poor functional capacity = less than 4 METS

Clinical risk factors:

        1) history of ischemic heart disease
        2) history of compensated or prior heart failure
        3) history of cerebrovascular disease
        4) diabetes mellitus
        5) renal insufficiency

Decision-making for testing is based upon the presence of multiple clinical risk factors, the level of functional capacity, the risk of the surgery and the likelihood that the results of the cardiac testing would change the management.

Evaluation of ventricular function in patients with non-ischemic myocardial disease;

Evaluation of patients in whom an accurate measure of the ejection fraction is needed to make a determination of whether to implant a defibrillator or biventricular pacemaker;

Evaluation of a patient receiving chemotherapeutic drugs which are potentially cardiotoxic (e.g., adriamycin).

First pass studies will be considered medically necessary only when information sought is immediately relevant to the management of the patient’s clinical condition, and has not been previously obtained or likely to be obtained from other planned tests such as echocardiography or equilibrium gated blood pool studies. First pass studies may be indicated for the assessment and identification of shunts.

Infarct avid scintigraphy is indicated in patients in whom it is not possible to make a definitive diagnosis of myocardial infarction by EKG or enzyme testing.

Patient selection should be based on clinical grounds:

Patients with a high pretest probability of disease are not usually candidates for a study for diagnostic purposes, though the size and reversibility of a defect and its functional consequences may be required for clinical decision-making.

Patients with a moderate probability of disease benefit the most from the study when the diagnosis is in question.

Selection of tests should be made within the context of other tests, scheduled and previously performed, so that the anticipated information obtained is unique and not redundant.


Special Equipment Requirements:

Given the limitations of uptake, low photon energy and redistribution, the cardiac blood pool codes and perfusion imaging codes are not generally covered on the same date of service. However, in light of the predictive value of exercise-induced changes in ejection fraction, an exception will be made to allow first pass, single study with exercise along with the appropriate perfusion studies. Providers who bill this service must certify within their records that their laboratories are specially equipped to process such studies.

All cardiovascular nuclear tests and stress tests must be referred by a physician or a qualified non-physician provider.

All stress tests must be performed under the supervision of a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner. The nuclear test components must be performed under the general supervision of a physician.

Myocardial perfusion studies performed based on the presence of risk factors in the absence of cardiac symptoms, cardiac abnormalities on physical examination, or abnormalities on cardiac testing (e.g., electrocardiographic tests, echocardiography, etc) will be considered screening and denied as not covered by Medicare.

Tests that are anticipated to provide information duplicative of another test already performed will be denied as not medically necessary.

Tests performed when the results would not be anticipated to influence medical management decisions will be denied as not medically necessary.

Myocardial perfusion studies performed subsequent to a diagnostic myocardial PET scan will denied as not medically necessary.

Infarct avid scintigraphy will be denied if the diagnosis of myocardial infarction has already been confirmed by enzymes and/or EKG.

Tests performed unrelated to changes in a patient's signs or symptoms, or for immediate pre-operative evaluation will be denied as medically unnecessary.

Tests performed for risk assessment prior to high risk non-cardiac surgery in asymptomatic patients within one year following normal catheterization or non-invasive test will be considered medically unnecessary and denied.

Tests performed for preoperative evaluation in patients undergoing low-risk surgery will be denied.

Summary of Evidence


Analysis of Evidence (Rationale for Determination)


Proposed Process Information

Synopsis of Changes
Changes Fields Changed
Associated Information
Sources of Information
Open Meetings
Meeting Date Meeting States Meeting Information
Contractor Advisory Committee (CAC) Meetings
Meeting Date Meeting States Meeting Information
MAC Meeting Information URLs
Proposed LCD Posting Date
Comment Period Start Date
Comment Period End Date
Reason for Proposed LCD
Requestor Information
This request was MAC initiated.
Requestor Name Requestor Letter
View Letter
Contact for Comments on Proposed LCD

Coding Information

Bill Type Codes

Code Description

Revenue Codes

Code Description


Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph


Group 1 Codes



ICD-10-CM Codes that Support Medical Necessity

Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph:


Group 1 Codes:



ICD-10-CM Codes that DO NOT Support Medical Necessity

Group 1

Group 1 Paragraph:


Group 1 Codes:



Additional ICD-10 Information

General Information

Associated Information
Sources of Information

This bibliography presents those sources that were obtained during the development of this policy. National Government Services is not responsible for the continuing viability of Web site addresses listed below.

American College of Cardiology - Self Assessment Program Syllabus.

Botnovich E, Dae M, O'Connell W, Ortendahl D, Hatner R. The scinitigraphic evaluation of the cardiovascular system. Cardiology Parmley (Ed).1994.

Brindis RG, Douglas PS, Hendel RC, et al. ACCF/ASNC appropriateness criteria for single-photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging (SPECT MPI): A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation Quality Strategic Directions Committee Appropriateness Criteria Working Group and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. J. Am Coll Cardiology. (2005);46:1587-1605.

Committee on Exercise Testing, ACC/AHA Guidelines for Exercise Testing. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. July 1997;30(1):260-311.

Fleisher LA, Beckman JA, Brown KA, et al. ACC/AHA 2007 Guidelines on perioperative cardiovascular evaluation and care for noncardiac surgery: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the 2002 Guidelines on Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation for Noncardiac Surgery): Developed in Collaboration With the American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Heart Rhythm Society, Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology, and Society for Vascular Surgery. J Am Coll Cardiol. (2007);50:1707-1732.

Johnson LL, Rodney RA, Vaccarino RA, et al. Left ventricular perfusion and performance from a single radiopharmaceutical and one camera. J Nucl Med. 1992;33:1411-1416.

Klocke FJ, Baird MG, Bateman TM, et al. ACC/AHA/ASNC Guidelines for the clinical use of cardiac radionuclide imaging: a report of the American College of Cardiology/ American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (ACC/AHA/ASNC Committee to revise the 1995 guidelines for the clinical use of radionuclide imaging). 2003: downloaded from http://www.acc.org/clinical/guidelines/radio/rni_fulltext.pdf.

Lee T. Cardiac Noninvasive Testing. In: Braunwald E, Goldman L. editors, Primary Cardiology. 2nd edition. Elsevier Science 2003:47-61.

McFalls EO, Ward HB, Moritz TE, et al. Coronary-artery revascularization before elective major vascular surgery. NEJM. 2004;351:2795-2804

Palmas W, Friedman JD, Diamond GA, Silber H, Kiat H, Berman D. Incremental value of simultaneous assessment of myocardial function and perfusion with technetium-99m sestamibi for prediction of extent of coronary artery disease. JACC. 1995;25(5):1024-1031.

Shaw LJ, Heinle SK, Borges-Neto S, Kesler K, Coleman RE, Jones RH, for the Duke Noninvasive Research Working Group. Prognosis by measurements of left ventricular function during exercise. J Nucl Med. 1998;39:140-146.

St John Sutton, MG, Rutherford JD, editors. Clinical Cardiovascular Imaging: A Companion to Braunwald's Heart Disease. Elsevier Saunders. 2004.

Wachers FJ, Soufer R, Zaret BL. Nuclear Cardiology. In: Heart Disease: A textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 6th edition. Braunwald E, Zipes D and Libby P, editors. 2001:273-304

Ward RP, Mouaz HA, Grossman GB, et al. American Society of Nuclear Cardiology review of the ACCF/ASNC appropriateness criteria for single-photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging (SPECT MPI). J Nucl Cardiol. 2007;14:e26-38.

Zaret BL, Beller GA. Nuclear Cardiology, State of the Art and Future Directions. Mosby 1999.

The following source was used in reviewing a reconsideration request in November, 2008:

Mariano-Goulart D, Dechaux L, Rouzet F, et al. Diagnosis of diffuse and localized arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia by gated blood-pool SPECT. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2007;48(9):1416-1423.

In review of a reconsideration request for July 2009, the New York Cardiology CAC representative was consulted.



Revision History Information

Revision History Date Revision History Number Revision History Explanation Reasons for Change
01/01/2021 R12

Per Change request 13094, effective January 1, 2021, the supervision requirements for diagnostic tests were revised to allow for non-physician practitioners to supervise stress tests. The Limitations section of the LCD has been updated accordingly.

  • Other (Revised to comply with CR 13094.)
10/01/2019 R11

Removed duplicate entry for "Assessment of congenital anomalies of coronary arteries;" from Indications of Coverage. 

  • Typographical Error
10/01/2019 R10

This LCD was converted to the new "no-codes" format. There has been no change in coverage with this LCD revision.

  • Revisions Due To Code Removal
08/01/2019 R9

Consistent with Change Request 10901, all coding information, National coverage provisions, and Associated Information (Documentation Requirements, Utilization Guidelines) have been removed from the LCD and placed in the related Billing and Coding Article, A56743. There has been no change in coverage with this LCD revision.

  • Provider Education/Guidance
10/01/2017 R8

 LCD revised for annual ICD-10 updates for 2018.

  •  For Group 1 (CPT codes 78451, 78452, 78453, 78454, 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483), ICD-10 codes I21.9, I21.A1, I21.A9, I50.810-I50.814, I50.82-I50.89, and R06.03 were added.
  • For Group 2 (CPT codes 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483, 78494 and 78496), ICD-10 codes I50.810-I50.814, and I50.82-I50.89 were added and were added to the asterisk note for Group 2.

  • For Group 3 (CPT 78466, 78468 and 78469), ICD-10 codes I21.9, I21.A1, I21.A9 were added.

DATE (10/01/2017): At this time, the 21st Century Cures Act will apply to new and revised LCDs that restrict coverage which requires comment and notice. This revision is not a restriction to the coverage determination; and, therefore not all the fields included on the LCD are applicable as noted in this policy.

  • Revisions Due To ICD-10-CM Code Changes
10/01/2016 R7 LCD revised for annual ICD-10 updates for 2017 with the following changes:

ICD-10 codes T82.855A-T82.855S and T82.856A- T82.856S were added as payable for group 1, CPT codes 78451, 78452, 78453, 78454, 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483, effective 10/1/2016.
  • Revisions Due To ICD-10-CM Code Changes
05/01/2016 R6 ICD-10 code I25.119 was added as payable for Group 1, CPT codes 78451, 78452, 78453, 78454, 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483, effective 10/1/2015.

ICD-10 codes I42.0-I42.9 were added for Group 1, CPT codes 78451, 78452, 78453, 78454, 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483, effective 5/01/2016.
  • Request for Coverage by a Practitioner (Part B)
01/01/2016 R5 LCD updated with revised descriptor for HCPCS code A9520.
  • Revisions Due To CPT/HCPCS Code Changes
10/01/2015 R4 ICD-10 code I25.810 was added as payable for Group 1, CPT codes 78451, 78452, 78453, 78454, 78472, 78473, 78481, 78483, effective 10/1/2015.
  • Request for Coverage by a Practitioner (Part B)
10/01/2015 R3 References to CPT codes 93015, 93016, 93017, and 93018, and HCPCS codes J0153, J1245, J1250, J2785, and J3490 were removed from the Coding and Documentation Requirements sections of the LCD. These stress test services have applications outside this policy and were removed to eliminate any confusion.

ICD-10 codes were revised to add the 7th digit D=subsequent encounter and S=sequela where 7th digit A=initial encounter was already included.
  • Provider Education/Guidance
10/01/2015 R2 Added Bill type codes
  • Other
10/01/2015 R1 LCD revised for annual HCPCS update for 2015. Effective for dates of service on or after 01/01/2015, HCPCS code J0151 is deleted and is replaced by code J0153.
  • Revisions Due To CPT/HCPCS Code Changes

Associated Documents

Related Local Coverage Documents
A56743 - Billing and Coding: Cardiovascular Nuclear Medicine
Related National Coverage Documents
Public Versions
Updated On Effective Dates Status
09/28/2023 01/01/2021 - N/A Currently in Effect You are here
Some older versions have been archived. Please visit the MCD Archive Site to retrieve them.


  • Cardiac Scans
  • Stress Tests
  • Heart

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