Medical Necessity for CoughAssist™ Cough Stimulating Device
for person with neuromuscular disease (NMD)
or high-level spinal cord injury (SCI)
There are many medications and medical devices that assist a patient in loosening bronchial secretions for easier removal. These medications and devices are useful for patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and other conditions where an excess of thick secretions build up within the lungs.
Once loosened, the bronchial secretions are then removed from the lungs through a "productive cough" which moves the secretions up the trachea and out the mouth. A cough is produced when the diaphragm and chest muscles work to expand the lungs (full inhalation) and then rapidly contract the lungs to expel the air (explosive exhalation), and along with the air, the loosened secretions.
Patients with neuromuscular disease (NMD) or high-level spinal cord injury (SCI) often lack the muscle strength (NMD) or muscle control (SCI) to create the full inhalation/explosive exhalation required to cough and thereby remove bronchial secretions from the lungs. Without removal of these secretions bacterial infection (pneumonia) and oxyhemoglobin desaturation (low blood oxygen) can occur resulting in respiratory failure, hospitalization, and death.
The situation is exacerbated for patients with poor bulbar (swallowing) muscle control as they may also "aspirate" saliva, foods, or liquids into the lungs. If the aspirated material is not removed, bacterial infection (pneumonia) and oxyhemoglobin desaturation (low blood oxygen) can occur resulting in respiratory failure, hospitalization, and death.
For patients with a tracheostomy (breathing tube inserted into the trachea through the neck), it is common practice to utilize a suctioning device for removal of bronchial secretions. A small "vacuum cleaner" hose is inserted directly into the lungs through the tracheostomy opening (or through the attached ventilation hoses) to suction out the secretions.
For patients without a tracheostomy, the only device of which we are aware that provides the full inhalation/explosive exhalation required for clearing the lungs of bronchial secretions and aspirated matter is the CoughAssist™ (J H Emerson Co, Cambridge, Massachusetts), formerly known as the In-Exsufflator, based on the Cofflator from O.E.M. Corporation. The CoughAssist™ is distributed by Respironics, Inc.
The CoughAssist™ is a portable electrically powered device that utilizes a blower and a valve to alternately apply positive then negative pressure to the patient's airway in order to assist the patient in clearing retained bronchial secretions. Air is delivered to/from the patient via a breathing circuit incorporating a flexible tube, a bacterial filter, and either a facemask or mouthpiece.
Cough Stimulating Device
Medicare HCPCS Code E0482
E0482 - Cough stimulating device, alternating positive and negative airway pressure
To the best of our knowledge there is only one product covered by this code: CoughAssist™ (J H Emerson Co, Cambridge, Massachusetts), formerly known as the In-Exsufflator, and distributed by Respironics, Inc.
The CoughAssist™, based on the Cofflator from O.E.M.
Corporation used during the polio epidemics in the 1950s, is a proven
technology that fell into disuse in the early '60s after tracheostomy and
suctioning became more popular. It has
regained acceptance as a noninvasive alternative for clearing airway
secretions. By avoiding invasive
surgery (tracheotomy) when noninvasive alternatives are viable, both quality of
life and mortality rates are improved as documented in Chest, Am J
Phys Med Rehabil, Arch Phys Med Rehabil, Rehabilitation R&D
Progress Reports (Veterans Health Administration), Distrofia Muscolare,
Bull N Y Acad Med, and other medical sources.
Use of the CoughAssist™ is indicated for the management of retained secretions where the patient is unable to generate a sufficient unassisted cough flow rate to clear secretions (< 160 to 270 L/min).
The adoption of a noninvasive protocol (the use of CoughAssist™ in conjunction with noninvasive positive pressure ventilation) has been shown to increase patient's quality of life, decrease respiratory-related hospitalization from 21 days/year to less than 2 days/year, and prolong life, in many cases by over 50 years. (Prevention of Pulmonary Morbidity).
J.H. Emerson Company
22 Cottage Park Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140-1691
1501 Ardmore Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15221-4401
Rich Clingman, Webmaster www.DoctorBach.com
April 16, 2002