cpt 43843, 43845, 43846 - 43888 - Bariatric surgery

CPT code and Descriptions

 43843 Gastric restrictive procedure, without gastric bypass, for morbid obesity; other than vertical-banded gastroplasty
43845 Gastric restrictive procedure with partial gastrectomy, pylorus-preserving duodenoileostomy and ileoileostomy (50 to 100 cm common channel) to limit absorption (biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch)
43846 Gastric restrictive procedure, with gastric bypass for morbid obesity; with short limb (150 cm or less) Roux-en-Y gastroenterostomy
43847 Gastric restrictive procedure, with gastric bypass for morbid obesity; with small intestine reconstruction to limit absorption
43848 Revision, open, of gastric restrictive procedure for morbid obesity, other than adjustable gastric restrictive device (separate procedure)
43886 Gastric restrictive procedure, open; revision of subcutaneous port component only
43887 Gastric restrictive procedure, open; removal of subcutaneous port component only
43888 Gastric restrictive procedure, open; removal and replacement of subcutaneous port component only

Bariatric Surgery


Bariatrics is the branch of medicine dealing with the causes and treatment of obesity. Clinically severe obesity (also known as morbid obesity) is when a person is excessively overweight. Obesity itself is a health hazard as it impacts the heart, lungs, muscles, and bones of the body. In addition, obesity is a known risk factor to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Many individuals are able to lose weight by changing their diet and increasing their exercise. The challenge for most people is keeping off the weight they have lost. For some people surgery may be needed. Bariatric surgery is often referred to as weight loss surgery or obesity surgery. Surgical approaches to support long-term weight loss have been developed over the past 20 years. For some individuals the surgery works very well, although even after surgery people may need to significantly change their eating habits. Surgery is not without risk, however. There are several different types of weight loss surgery that are done on the stomach, intestine or both. They generally fall into two main categories: surgeries that restrict the amount of food that may be eaten, and surgeries that restrict the body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients. Not all plans cover obesity surgery. When plans have a benefit for obesity surgery, then this policy describes what information is needed by the health plan to determine if the surgery may be covered.

Note: The Introduction section is for your general knowledge and is not to be taken as policy coverage criteria. The rest of the policy uses specific words and concepts familiar to medical professionals. It is intended fo providers. A provider can be a person, such as a doctor, nurse, psychologist, or dentist. A provider also can be a place where medical care is given, like a hospital, clinic, or lab. This policy informs them about when a service may be covered. Policy Coverage Criteria Indication Coverage Criteria  Contract limitations Some health plan contracts do not have benefits to cover surgical treatment of morbid obesity, complications, or after effects associated with weight loss surgery. Refer to member contract language for benefit determination on weight loss surgery.

Patient selection criteria for adults (Must meet all 3 criteria) Bariatric (weight loss) surgery in an adult may be considered medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

* A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 kg/m2 OR
* A BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with at least ONE of the following conditions:
o Established Coronary Heart Disease, such as:
* History of angina pectoris (stable or unstable)
* History of angioplasty
* History of coronary artery surgery
* History of myocardial infarction
o Other Atherosclerotic Disease, such as:
* Abdominal aortic aneurysm
* Hypertension that is uncontrolled or resistant to treatment (medically refractory) with a blood pressure (BP) greater than 140/90 despite optimal medical management. Attempted medical management must have included at least 2 medications of different classes
* Peripheral arterial disease
* Symptomatic carotid artery disease
o Type 2 Diabetes uncontrolled by pharmacotherapy
o Obstructive sleep apnea as documented by a sleep study

Indication Coverage Criteria (polysomnography) (see Related Policies). AND

* Participation in a physician administered weight reductionprogram lasting at least six continuous months within the two year period before surgery is considered. o Evidence of active participation documented in the medical record includes:

* Weight

* Current dietary program (MediFast, OptiFast)

* Physical activity (eg, exercise/work-out program) OR

* Documentation of participation in a structured weight reduction program such as as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig is an acceptable alternative if done in conjuction with physician supervision AND

* Psychological evaluation and clearance by a licensed mental health provider to rule out psychological disorders, inability to provide informed consent, or inability to comply with pre- and post-surgical requirements

Note: A physician’s summary letter alone is not sufficient documentation. Patient selection criteria for adolescents less than 18 years of age

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery in adolescents may be considered medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

* The health plan contract allows bariatric surgery for those younger than 18 years of age AND

* The adolescent meets the same patient selection criteria as an adult AND

* The facility has experienced staff to support adolescents including psychosocial and informed consent issues for bariatric surgery

Indication Coverage Criteria

Refer to member contract language for benefit determination on treatment of obesity for adolescents. Covered bariatric (weight loss) surgeries

The following bariatric (weight loss) surgery procedures may be considered medically necessary when criteria are met:
* Adjustable gastric banding–laparoscopic
* Biliopancreatic bypass (ie, the Scopinaro procedure) with duodenal switch–open or laparoscopic
* Gastric bypass using a Roux-en-Y anastomosis–open or laparoscopic
* Sleeve gastrectomy Surgeon and facility requirements
Bariatric (weight loss) surgery should be performed:
* By a surgeon with specialized training and experience in the bariatric surgery procedure used AND
* In an institution (facility or hospital) that includes a comprehensive bariatric surgery program AND
* Any device used for bariatric surgery must be FDA approved for that purpose and used according to the labeled indications Revision bariatric surgery to correct complications

Revision bariatric (weight loss) surgery (such as replacement and/or removal of an adjustable gastric band, surgical repair or reversal, or conversion to another covered bariatric surgical procedure) may be considered medically necessary to correct complications from the primary bariatric procedure including, but not limited to:
* Band erosion, slippage, leakage, herniation or intractable nausea/vomiting that cannot be corrected with manipulation or adjustment
* Hypoglycemia or malnutrition related to non-absorption
* Obstruction
* Staple-line failure (eg, Gastrogastric fistula)
* Stricture
* Ulceration
* Weight loss of 20% or more below ideal body weight
* Coverage for bariatric surgery is available under the individual’s

Indication Coverage Criteria current health benefit plan Reoperation bariatric  surgery for inadequateweight loss

In the absence of a technical failure or major complication, individuals with weight loss failure (not described above) must meet the initial medical necessity criteria for bariatric surgery Cholecystectomy Routine cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) may be considered medically necessary when performed with bariatric surgery.

Hiatal hernia repair Repair of a hiatal hernia during bariatric surgery may be considered medically necessary for a preoperative diagnosis of hiatal hernia with clinical indications for surgical repair. Repair of a hiatal hernia performed at the time of bariatric surgery in the absence of preoperative clinical indications for surgical repairis considered not medically necessary Routine liver biopsy Routine liver biopsy during obesity surgery is considered not medically necessary in the absence of preoperative signs or symptoms of liver disease.(eg, elevated liver enzymes, enlarged liver)

Bariatric surgery for a BMI less than 35 kg/m2

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery is considered not medically necessary for patients with a BMI less than 35 kg/m2.

Bariatric surgery to treat conditions other than morbid obesity

Bariatric surgery is considered investigational for the treatment of any condition other than morbid obesity, including, but not limited to diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis

Non-covered bariatric surgeries/procedures

Vertical banded gastroplasty (stomach stapling) is considered not medically necessary as a treatment for obesity due to too many long-term complications.

The following weight loss (bariatric) surgery procedures are considered investigational for the treatment of morbid obesity:
* Biliopancreatic bypass without duodenal switch
* Gastric bypass using a Billroth II type of anastomosis (minigastric bypass)
* Laparoscopic gastric plication

Indication Coverage Criteria

* Long-limb gastric bypass procedure (ie, >150 cm)
* Single anastomosis duodenoileal bypass with sleeve gastrectomy
* Two-stage bariatric surgery procedures (eg, sleeve gastrectomy as initial procedure followed by biliopancreatic diversion at a later time)
* Vagus nerve blocking (eg, the VBLOC device or Maestro®) (See related medical policy 7.01.150)
* Endoscopic procedures as a primary bariatric procedure or as a revision procedure including but not limited to:
o Insertion of the StomaphyX™ device
o Insertion of a gastric balloon (eg, Orbera®)
o Endoscopic gastroplasty
o Use of an endoscopically placed duodenal-jejunal sleeve
o Aspiration therapy device (eg, AspireAssist®)

Documentation Requirements
The medical records submitted for review should document that medical necessity criteria are met. The record should include clinical documentation of ALL THREE (3) criteria:

1. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 kg/m2, or BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with at least ONE (1) of the following conditions:
o Established coronary heart disease
o Other atherosclerotic disease
o Type 2 diabetes uncontrolled by medications
o Obstructive sleep apnea as documented by a sleep study
2. Completion of a physician administered weight-loss program that:
o Lasted for at least six (6) months in a row
o Took place within two (2) years before the proposed weight loss surgery
o Demonstrates in the medical record that the member actively took part in the program, as well as include member’s weight, the current dietary program (MediFast, OptiFast) and banded gastroplasty

Body Mass Index Calculation Morbid obesity, also known as clinically severe obesity, is measured using the body mass index (BMI). Severe obesity is weight-based and is defined as a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 or a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with obesity-associated health conditions. BMI is calculated by dividing a patient’s weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared.
* To convert pounds to kilograms, multiply pounds by 0.45
* To convert inches to meters multiply inches by 0.0254
* Click here for BMI calculation.

Evidence Review Description

Bariatric surgery is a treatment for morbid obesity in patients who fail to lose weight with conservative measures. There are numerous surgical techniques available. While these techniques have different mechanisms of action,the result is a smaller gastric pouch that leads to restricted eating. However, these surgeries may lead to malabsorption of nutrients or eventually to metabolic changes .


Bariatric surgery is performed to treat morbid (clinically severe) obesity. Morbid obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 kg/m2 or a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with associated complications including, but not limited to, diabetes, hypertension, or obstructive sleep apnea. Morbid obesity results in a very high risk for weight-related complications, such as diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, and various types of cancers (for men: colon, rectal, prostate; for women: breast, uterine, ovarian), and a shortened life span. A morbidly obese man at age 20 can expect to live 13 fewer years than his counterpart with a normal BMI, which equates to a 22% reduction in life expectancy.

The first treatment of morbid obesity is dietary and lifestyle changes. Although this strategy may be effective in some patients, only a few morbidly obese individuals can reduce and control weight through diet and exercise. Most patients find it difficult to comply with these lifestyle modifications on a long-term basis.

When conservative measures fail, some patients may consider surgical approaches. A 1991 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference defined surgical candidates as “those patients with a BMI of greater than 40 kg/m2, or greater than 35 kg/m2 in conjunction with severe comorbidities such as cardiopulmonary complications or severe diabetes.”1 Resolution (cure) or improvement of type 2 diabetes (T2D) after bariatric surgery and observations that glycemic control may improve immediately after surgery, before a significant amount of weight is lost, have promoted interest in a surgical approach to the treatment of T2D.

The various surgical procedures have different effects, and gastrointestinal rearrangement seems to confer additional antidiabetic benefits independent of weight loss and caloric restriction. The precise mechanisms are not clear, and multiple mechanisms may be involved. Gastrointestinal peptides, eg, glucagon-like peptide-1 (1GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP), and peptide YY (PYY), are secreted in response to contact with unabsorbed nutrients and by vagally mediated parasympathetic neural mechanisms. GLP-1 is secreted by the L cells of the distal ileum in response to ingested nutrients and acts on pancreatic islets to augment glucose-dependent insulin secretion. It also slows gastric emptying, which delays digestion, blunts postprandial glycemia, and acts on the central nervous system to induce satiety and decrease food intake. Other effects may improve insulin sensitivity. GIP acts on pancreatic beta cells to increase insulin secretion through the same mechanisms as GLP-1, although it is less potent. PYY is also secreted by the L cells of the distal intestine and increases satiety and delays gastric emptying.

Types of Bariatric Surgery Procedures

The following summarizes the most common types of bariatric surgery procedures.

Open Gastric Bypass

The original gastric bypass surgeries were based on the observation that postgastrectomy patients tended to lose weight. The current procedure involves both a restrictive and a malabsorptive component, with horizontal or vertical partition of the stomach performed in association with a Roux-en-Y procedure (ie, a gastrojejunal anastomosis). Thus, the flow of food bypasses the duodenum and proximal small bowel. The procedure may also be associated with an unpleasant “dumping syndrome,” in which a large osmotic load delivered directly to the jejunum from the stomach produces abdominal pain and/or vomiting. The dumping syndrome may further reduce intake, particularly in “sweets eaters.” Surgical complications include leakage and operative margin ulceration at the anastomotic site. Because the normal flow of food is disrupted, there are more metabolic complications than with other gastric restrictive procedures, including iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, and hypocalcemia, all of which can be corrected by oral supplementation. Another concern is the ability to evaluate the “blind” bypassed portion of the stomach. Gastric bypass may be performed with either an open or laparoscopic technique.

Note: In 2005, the CPT code 43846 was revised to indicate that the short limb must be 150 cm or less, compared with the previous 100 cm. This change reflects the common practice in which the alimentary (ie, jejunal limb) of a gastric bypass has been lengthened to 150 cm. This length also serves to distinguish a standard gastric bypass with a very long, or very, very long gastric bypass, as discussed further here.

Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass

CPT code 43644 was introduced in 2005 and described the same procedure as open gastric bypass (CPT code 43846), but performed laparoscopically.

Adjustable Gastric Banding

Adjustable gastric banding (CPT code 43770) involves placing a gastric band around the exterior of the stomach. The band is attached to a reservoir implanted subcutaneously in the rectus sheath. Injecting the reservoir with saline will alter the diameter of the gastric band; therefore, the rate-limiting stoma in the stomach can be progressively narrowed to induce greater weight loss, or expanded if complications develop. Because the stomach is not entered, the surgery and any revisions, if necessary, are relatively simple.

Complications include slippage of the external band or band erosion through the gastric wall. Adjustable gastric banding has been widely used in Europe. Two banding devices are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing in the United States. The first to receive FDA approval was the LAP-BAND (original applicant, Allergan, BioEnterics, Carpinteria, CA; now Apollo Endosurgery, Austin, TX). The labeled indications for this device are as follows:

"The LAP-BAND® system is indicated for use in weight reduction for severely obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 or a BMI of at least 35 with one or more severe comorbid conditions, or those who are 100 lb or more over their estimated ideal weight according to the 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance Tables (use the midpoint for medium frame).

It is indicated for use only in severely obese adult patients who have failed more conservative weight-reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification programs. Patients who elect to have this surgery must make the commitment to accept significant changes in their eating habits for the rest of their lives."

In 2011, FDA-labelled indications for the LAP-BAND were expanded to include patients with a BMI from 30 to 34 kg/m2 with at least 1 obesity-related comorbid condition. The second adjustable gastric banding device approved by FDA through the premarket approval process is the REALIZE® model (Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Cincinnati, OH). Labeled indications for this device are:

“Th[e REALIZE] device is indicated for weight reduction for morbidly obese patients and is indicated for individuals with a Body Mass Index of at least 40 kg/m2, or a BMI of at least 35 kg/m2 with one or more comorbid conditions. The Band is indicated for use only in morbidly obese adult patients who have failed more conservative weight-reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs.”

Sleeve Gastrectomy

A sleeve gastrectomy (CPT code 43775) is an alternative approach to gastrectomy that can be performed on its own or in combination with malabsorptive procedures (most commonly biliopancreatic diversion [BPD] with duodenal switch). In this procedure, the greater curvature of the stomach is resected from the angle of His to the distal antrum, resulting in a stomach remnant shaped like a tube or sleeve. The pyloric sphincter is preserved, resulting in a more physiologic transit of food from the stomach to the duodenum and avoiding the dumping syndrome (overly rapid transport of food through the stomach into intestines) seen with distal gastrectomy. This procedure is relatively simple to perform and can be done as an open or laparoscopic procedure. Some surgeons have proposed the sleeve gastrectomy as the first in a 2-stage procedure for very high risk patients. Weight loss following sleeve gastrectomy may improve a patient’s overall medical status and, thus, reduce the risk of a subsequent more extensive malabsorptive procedure (eg, BPD).

Biliopancreatic Bypass Diversion

The BPD procedure (also known as the Scopinaro procedure; CPT code 43847) developed and used extensively in Italy, was designed to address drawbacks of the original intestinal bypass procedures that have been abandoned due to unacceptable metabolic complications. Many complications were thought to be related to bacterial overgrowth and toxin production in the blind, bypassed segment. In contrast, BPD consists of a subtotal gastrectomy and diversion of the biliopancreatic juices into the distal ileum by a long Roux-en-Y procedure. The procedure consists of the following components:

a. A distal gastrectomy induces a temporary early satiety and/or the dumping syndrome in the early postoperative period, both of which limit food intake.
b. A 200-cm long “alimentary tract” consists of 200 cm of ileum connecting the stomach to a common distal segment.
c. A 300- to 400-cm “biliary tract” connects the duodenum, jejunum, and remaining ileum to the common distal segment.
d. A 50- to 100-cm “common tract” is where food from the alimentary tract mixes with biliopancreatic juices from the biliary tract. Food digestion and absorption, particularly of fats and starches, are therefore limited to this small segment of bowel, ie, creating selective malabsorption. The length of the common segment will influence the degree of malabsorption.
e. Because of the high incidence of cholelithiasis associated with the procedure, patients typically undergo an associated cholecystectomy.

Many potential metabolic complications are related to BPD, including, most prominently, iron deficiency anemia, protein malnutrition, hypocalcemia, and bone demineralization. Protein malnutrition may require treatment with total parenteral nutrition. In addition, several case reports have noted liver failure resulting in death or liver transplant.

BPD With Duodenal Switch

CPT code 43845, which specifically identifies the duodenal switch procedure, was introduced in 2005. The duodenal switch procedure is a variant of the BPD previously described. In this procedure, instead of performing a distal gastrectomy, a sleeve gastrectomy is performed along the vertical axis of the stomach. This approach preserves the pylorus and initial segment of the duodenum, which is then anastomosed to a segment of the ileum, similar to the BPD, to create the alimentary limb. Preservation of the pyloric sphincter is intended to ameliorate the dumping syndrome and decrease the incidence of ulcers at the duodenoileal anastomosis by providing a more physiologic transfer of stomach contents to the duodenum. The sleeve gastrectomy also decreases the volume of the stomach and decreases the parietal cell mass. However, the basic principle of the procedure is similar to that of the BPD, ie, producing selective malabsorption by limiting the food digestion and absorption to a short common ileal segment.

Vertical-Banded Gastroplasty

Vertical-banded gastroplasty (VBG; CPT code 43842) was formerly one of the most common gastric restrictive procedures performed in the United States, but has now been replaced by other restrictive procedures due to high rates of revisions and reoperations. In this procedure, the stomach is segmented along its vertical axis. In order to create a durable reinforced and rate-limiting stoma at the distal end of the pouch, a plug of the stomach is removed, and a propylene collar is placed through this hole and then stapled to itself. Because the normal flow of food is preserved, metabolic complications are uncommon. Complications include  esophageal reflux, dilation, or obstruction of the stoma, with the latter 2 requiring reoperation. Dilation of the stoma is a common reason for weight regain. VBG may be performed using an open or laparoscopic approach.

Long-Limb Gastric Bypass (ie, >150 cm)

Variations of gastric bypass procedures have been described, consisting primarily of long-limb Roux-en-Y procedures (CPT code 43847), which vary in the length of the alimentary and common limbs. For example, the stomach may be divided with a long segment of the jejunum (instead of ileum) anastomosed to the proximal gastric stump, creating the alimentary limb. The remaining pancreaticobiliary limb, consisting of stomach remnant, duodenum, and length of proximal jejunum, is then anastomosed to the ileum, creating a common limb of variable length in which the ingested food mixes with the pancreaticobiliary juices. While the long alimentary limb permits absorption of most nutrients, the short common limb primarily limits absorption of fats. The stomach may be bypassed in a variety of ways (eg, resection or stapling along the  horizontal or vertical axis). Unlike the traditional gastric bypass, which is a gastric restrictive procedure, these very long-limb Roux-en-Y gastric bypasses combine gastric restriction with some element of malabsorptive procedure, depending on the location of the anastomoses. Note that CPT code for gastric bypass (43846) explicitly describes a short limb (<150 and="" apply="" br="" bypass.="" cm="" gastric="" gastroenterostomy="" long-limb="" not="" roux-en-y="" thus="" to="" would="">

Laparoscopic Malabsorptive Procedure CPT code 43645 was introduced in 2005 to specifically describe a laparoscopic malabsorptive procedure. However, the code does not specifically describe any specific malabsorptive procedure.

Weight Loss Outcomes

There is no uniform standard for reporting results of weight loss or for describing a successful procedure. Common methods of reporting the amount of body weight loss are percent of ideal body weight achieved or percent of excess body weight (EBW) loss, with the latter most commonly reported. EBW is defined as actual weight minus “ideal weight” and “ideal weight” is based on 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance height-weight tables for medium frame.

These 2 reporting methods are generally preferred over the absolute amount of weight loss, because they reflect the ultimate goal of surgery: to reduce weight to a range that minimizes obesity-related morbidity. Obviously, an increasing degree of obesity will require a greater amount of weight loss to achieve these target goals. There are different definitions of successful outcomes, but a successful procedure is often considered one in which at least 50% of EBW is lost, or when the patient returns to within 30% of ideal body weight. The results may also be expressed as the percentage of patients losing at least 50% of EBW. Table 1 summarizes the variations in reporting weight loss outcomes.

Durability of Weight Loss Weight change (ie, gain or loss) at yearly intervals is often reported. Weight loss at 1 year is considered the minimum length of time for evaluating these procedures; weight loss at 3 to 5 years is considered an intermediate time period for evaluating weight loss; and weight loss at 5 to 10 years or more is considered to represent long-term weight loss following bariatric surgery. Short-Term Complications (Operative and Perioperative Complications <30 br="" days="">
In general, the incidence of operative and perioperative complications is increased in obese patients, particularly in thromboembolism and wound healing. Other perioperative

complications include anastomotic leaks, bleeding, bowel obstruction, and cardiopulmonary
complications (eg, pneumonia, myocardial infarction).
Reoperation Rate
Reoperation may be required to either “take down” or revise the original procedure.
Reoperation may be particularly common in VBG due to pouch dilation.

Long-Term Complications (Metabolic Adverse Events, Nutritional Deficiencies)

Metabolic adverse events are of particular concern in malabsorptive procedures. Other longterm complications include anastomotic ulcers, esophagitis, and procedure-specific complications such as band erosion or migration for gastric-banding surgeries. Improved Health Outcomes in Terms of Weight-Related Comorbidities Aside from psychosocial concerns, which may be considerable, one motivation for bariatric surgery is to decrease the incidence of complications of obesity, such as diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors (ie, increased cholesterol, hypertension), obstructive sleep apnea, or arthritis. Unfortunately, these final health outcomes are not consistently reported.


1. Medtronic: Reimbursement Coding Guide Medicare Bariatric Surgery

2. CMS: Billing and Coding: Bariatric Surgical Management of Morbid Obesity

3. Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices: 2020 Bariatric Reimbursement Fact Sheet (Unavailable)