The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 7 , 2047 - 2049

The 22-Modifier in Reimbursement for Orthopedic Procedures: Hip Arthroplasty and Obesity Are Worth the Effort

Smith, Eric L. et al.


Orthopedic surgeons utilize the 22-modifier when billing for complex procedures under the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) for reasons such as excessive blood loss, anatomic abnormality, and morbid obesity, cases that would ideally be reimbursed at a higher rate to compensate for additional physician work and time. We investigated how the 22-modifier affects physician reimbursement in knee and hip arthroplasty.


We queried hospital billing data from 2009 to 2016, identifying all cases performed at our urban tertiary care orthopedic center for knee arthroplasty (CPT codes 27438, 27447, 27487, and 27488) and hip arthroplasty (CPT codes 27130, 27132, 27134, 27236). We extracted patient insurance status and reimbursement data to compare the average reimbursement between cases with and without the 22-modifier.


We analyzed data from 2605 procedures performed by 10 providers. There were 136 cases with 22-modifiers. For knee arthroplasty (n = 1323), the 22-modifier did not significantly increase reimbursement after adjusting for insurer, provider, and fiscal year (4.2% dollars higher on average, P = .159). For hip arthroplasty (n = 1282), cases with a 22-modifier had significantly higher reimbursement than those without the 22-modifier (6.2% dollars more, P = .049). For hip arthroplasty cases with a 22-modifier, those noting morbid obesity were reimbursed 29% higher than those cases with other etiology.


The effect of the 22-modifier on reimbursement amount is differential between knee and hip arthroplasty. Hip arthroplasty procedures coded as 22-modifier are reimbursed more than those without the 22-modifier. Providers should consider these potential returns when considering submitting a 22-modifier.

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