MEDICAL POLICY

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Aqueous Shunts and Stents for Glaucoma

Number 9.03.21

Effective Date November 11, 2013

Revision Date(s) 11/11/13; 12/11/12; 07/0/12; 01/10/12; 07/12/11

Replaces N/A

Policy

Insertion of aqueous shunts approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be considered medically necessary as a method to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma where medical therapy has failed to adequately control intraocular pressure.

Use of an aqueous shunt for all other conditions, including in patients with glaucoma when intraocular pressure is adequately controlled by medications, is considered investigational.

Implantation of a single FDA-approved micro-stent in conjunction with cataract surgery may be considered medically necessary in patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma currently treated with ocular hypotensive medication.

Use of a micro-stent for all other conditions is considered investigational.

Related Policies

9.03.18

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) of the Anterior Eye Segment

9.03.23

Intravitreal Corticosteroid Implants

9.03.26

Viscocanalostomy and Canaloplasty

Policy Guidelines

Shunts and stents are only able to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) to the mid-teens and may be inadequate when very low IOP is needed to reduce glaucoma damage.

The CPT codes for these procedures were changed in 2011. The current codes are as follows:

0191T Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; internal approach, into the trabecular meshwork

0192T Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; external approach

0253T Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; internal approach, into the suprachoroidal space

The category III CPT codes specify insertion of an aqueous drainage device without drainage to an extraocular reservoir and are therefore differentiated from the existing codes for trabeculectomy or placement of shunts that drain to an extraocular reservoir (below). The Trabectome procedure is considered similar to trabecular laser ablation and is not within the scope of this policy.

Description

Glaucoma surgery is intended to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) when the target IOP cannot be reached with medications. Due to complications with established surgical approaches such as trabeculectomy, a variety of devices, including aqueous shunts, are being evaluated as alternative surgical treatments for patients with inadequately controlled glaucoma. Micro-stents are also being evaluated in patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma currently treated with ocular hypotensive medication.

Background

Surgical procedures for glaucoma aim to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) resulting from impaired aqueous humor drainage in the trabecular meshwork and/or Schlemm’s canal. In the primary (conventional) outflow pathway from the eye, aqueous humor passes through the trabecular meshwork, enters a space lined with endothelial cells (Schlemm’s canal), drains into collector channels, and then into the aqueous veins. Increases in resistance in the trabecular meshwork and/or the inner wall of Schlemm’s canal can disrupt the balance of aqueous humor inflow and outflow, resulting in an increase in IOP and glaucoma risk.

Surgical intervention may be indicated in patients with glaucoma when the target IOP cannot be reached pharmacologically. Trabeculectomy (guarded filtration surgery) is the most established surgical procedure for glaucoma, allowing aqueous humor to directly enter the subconjunctival space. This procedure creates a subconjunctival reservoir, which can effectively reduce IOP, but commonly results in filtering “blebs” on the eye, and is associated with numerous complications (e.g., leaks or bleb-related endophthalmitis) and long-term failure. Other surgical procedures (not addressed in this policy) include trabecular laser ablation, deep sclerectomy, which removes the outer wall of Schlemm’s canal and excises deep sclera and peripheral cornea, and viscocanalostomy, which unroofs and dilates Schlemm’s canal without penetrating the trabecular meshwork or anterior chamber. (See Related Policies)

More recently the Trabectome™, an electrocautery device with irrigation and aspiration, has been used to selectively ablate the trabecular meshwork and inner wall of Schlemm’s canal without external access or creation of a subconjunctival bleb. IOP with this ab interno procedure is typically higher than the pressure achieved with standard filtering trabeculectomy. Canaloplasty involves dilation and tension of Schlemm’s canal with a suture loop between the inner wall of the canal and the trabecular meshwork. This ab externo procedure uses the iTrack™ illuminated microcatheter (iScience Interventional) to access and dilate the entire length of Schlemm’s canal and to pass the suture loop through the canal. (See Related Policies)

Aqueous shunts may also be placed in the anterior or posterior chamber to facilitate drainage of aqueous humor. Established shunts include the Ahmed (New World Medical), Baerveldt® (Advanced Medical Optics), Molteno® (IOP), ExPress® mini-shunt (Alco); and the SOLX® DeepLight® Gold Micro-Shunt (SOLX), which shunts aqueous humor between the anterior chamber and the suprachoroidal space. These devices differ depending on explant surface areas, shape, plate thickness, the presence or absence of a valve, and details of surgical installation. Generally, the risk of hypotony (low pressure) is reduced with aqueous shunts in comparison with trabeculectomy, but IOP outcomes are higher than after standard guarded filtration surgery. Complications of anterior chamber shunts include corneal endothelial failure and erosion of the overlying conjunctiva. The risk of postoperative infection is less than after trabeculectomy, and failure rates are similar, with about 10% of devices failing each year. The primary indication for aqueous shunts is when prior medical or surgical therapy has failed, although some ophthalmologists have advocated their use as a primary surgical intervention, particularly for selected conditions such as congenital glaucoma, trauma, chemical burn, or pemphigoid.

Other aqueous stents are being developed as minimally penetrating methods to drain aqueous humor from the anterior chamber into Schlemm’s canal or the suprachoroidal space. These include the iStent® (Glaukos), which is a 1-mm long stent inserted into the end of Schlemm’s canal by an internal approach through the cornea and anterior chamber; the third generation iStent supra®, which is designed for ab interno implantation into the suprachoroidal space; and the CyPass® (Transcend Medical) suprachoroidal stent.

Since aqueous humor outflow is pressure-dependent, the pressure in the reservoir and venous system are critical for reaching the target IOP. Therefore, some devices may be unable to reduce IOP below the pressure of the distal outflow system used, e.g., below 15 mm Hg, and are not indicated for patients for whom very low IOP is desired (e.g., those with advanced glaucoma). It has been proposed that shunts may be useful to lower IOP in patients with early stage glaucoma to reduce the burden of medications and problems with compliance. One area of investigation is for patients with glaucoma who require cataract surgery. An advantage of ab interno shunts is that they may be inserted into the same incision and at the same time as cataract surgery. In addition, most devices do not preclude subsequent trabeculectomy if needed. It may also be possible to insert more than one shunt to achieve the desired IOP. Therefore, health outcomes of interest are the IOP achieved, reduction in medications, ability to convert to trabeculectomy, complications, and durability of the device.

Regulatory Status

Device

Manufacturer

Type

FDA Status

Date

AquaFlow™

Staar Surgical

Drainage device

PMA

2001

Trabectome™

NeoMedix

Electrocautery device

510(k)

2006

Ahmed ™

New World Medical

Aqueous glaucoma shunt

510(k)

< 1993

Baerveldt ®

Advanced Medical Optics

Aqueous glaucoma shunt

510(k)

< 1993

Krupin

Eagle Vision

Aqueous glaucoma shunt

510(k)

< 1993

Molteno ®

Molteno Ophthalmic

Aqueous glaucoma shunt

510(k)

< 1993

Ex-PRESS™

Alco

Mini-glaucoma shunt

510(k)

2003

iStent ®

Glaukos

Micro-glaucoma stent

PMA

2012

Solx® gold

Solx

Micro-glaucoma shunt

Not Approved

N/A

iStent inject®

Glaukos

Suprachoroidal stent

Not Approved

N/A

iStent supra®

Glaukos

Suprachoroidal stent

Not Approved

N/A

CyPass®

Transcend Medical

Suprachoroidal Stent

Not Approved

N/A

The first generation Ahmed (New World Medical), Baerveldt (Advanced Medical Optics), Krupin (Eagle Vision), and Molteno (Molteno Ophthalmic) aqueous shunts received marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1989 and 1993; modified Ahmed and Molteno devices were most recently cleared in 2006. Their indication for use is “in patients with intractable glaucoma to reduce intraocular pressure where medical and conventional surgical treatments have failed.” The AquaFlow™ Collagen Glaucoma Drainage Device received premarket approval from the FDA in 2001 for the maintenance of sub-scleral space following non-penetrating deep sclerectomy. The Ex-PRESS™ Mini Glaucoma Shunt received 510(k) marketing clearance in 2003. The Ex-PRESS shunt is placed under a partial thickness scleral flap and transports aqueous fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye into a conjunctival filtering bleb.

In 2012, the FDA approved the Glaukos Corporation’s iStent® Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent, PMA P080030, as indicated for use in conjunction with cataract surgery for the reduction of IOP in adult patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma currently treated with ocular hypotensive medication.

The labeling describes the following precautions:

  1. The safety and effectiveness of the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent has not been established as an alternative to the primary treatment of glaucoma with medications. The effectiveness of this device has been demonstrated only in patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma who are currently treated with ocular hypotensive medication and who are undergoing concurrent cataract surgery for visually significant cataract.
  2. The safety and effectiveness of the iStent® Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent has not been established in patients with the following circumstances or conditions, which were not studied in the pivotal trial:
  1. In children
  2. In eyes with significant prior trauma
  3. In eyes with abnormal anterior segment
  4. In eyes with chronic inflammation
  5. In glaucoma associated with vascular disorders
  6. In pseudophakic patients with glaucoma
  7. In uveitic glaucoma
  8. In patients with prior glaucoma surgery of any type including argon laser trabeculoplasty
  9. In patients with medicated intraocular pressure greater than 24 mm Hg
  10. In patients with unmedicated IOP less than 22 mm Hg nor greater than 36 mm Hg after "washout" of medications
  11. For implantation of more than a single stent
  12. After complications during cataract surgery, including but not limited to, severe corneal burn, vitreous removal/vitrectomy required, corneal injuries, or complications requiring the placement of an anterior chamber IOL [intraocular lens]
  13. When implantation has been without concomitant cataract surgery with IOL implantation for visually significant cataract

The Solx gold shunt is currently in FDA-regulated trials. The Solx gold shunt has received regulatory approval in Europe. It is not FDA-approved/cleared for use in the U.S. at this time.

Scope

Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply.

Benefit Application

N/A

Rationale

A search of the MEDLINE database was initially performed through June 2008 on shunts that were in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trials at the time. In 2009, the literature was updated to include aqueous shunts that had been previously cleared by the FDA. The policy has since been updated periodically; the most recent literature update was performed through August 13, 2013.

FDA-Approved/Cleared Aqueous Shunts

A 2006 Cochrane review evaluated 15 randomized or pseudo-randomized controlled trials (RCTs), with a total of 1,153 participants, on the Ahmed, Baerveldt, Molteno, and Schocket shunts. (1) Trabeculectomy was found to result in a lower mean intraocular pressure (IOP) (by 3.8 mm Hg) than the Ahmed shunt at 1 year. A limitation of this report is that complications were not compared, as the authors considered them to be too variably reported to allow comparative tabulation. There was no evidence of superiority of one shunt over another.

A literature review on commercially available aqueous shunts, including the Ahmed, Baerveldt, Krupin, and Molteno devices, for an American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) technology assessment was published in 2008. (2) This review indicated that the IOP will generally settle at higher levels (approximately 18 mm Hg) with aqueous shunts than after standard trabeculectomy (14-16 mm Hg) or after trabeculectomy with anti-fibrotic agents 5-fluorouacil or mitomycin C (8-10 mm Hg). In one study, mean IOPs with the Baerveldt shunt and adjunct medications were found to be equivalent to trabeculectomy with mitomycin C (13 mm Hg). Five-year success rates for the two procedures were found to be similar (50%). The assessment concluded that based on level 1 evidence, aqueous shunts were comparable with trabeculectomy for IOP control and duration of benefit. The risk of postoperative infection was less with aqueous shunts than after trabeculectomy. Complications of aqueous shunts were noted to include: immediate hypotony after surgery; excessive capsule fibrosis and clinical failure; erosion of the tube or plate edge; strabismus; and, very rarely, infection. The most problematic long-term consequence of anterior chamber tube placement was described as accelerated damage to the corneal endothelium over time.

A comparative effectiveness review (CER) on glaucoma treatments was prepared by the Johns Hopkins Evidence-based Practice Center for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in 2012. (3) The CER found that the data available on the role of aqueous drainage devices in open-angle glaucoma (primary studies, systematic review) were inadequate to draw conclusions on the comparative effectiveness of these treatments in comparison with laser and other surgical treatments.

Baerveldt Glaucoma Shunt

Early results from the open-label multicenter randomized Tube Versus Trabeculectomy (TVT) study were reviewed in the 2008 AAO technology assessment, and in 2012, Gedde et al. reported 5-year follow-up from this study. (2, 4) The study included 212 eyes of 212 patients (18-85 years) who had previous trabeculectomy and/or cataract extraction with intraocular lens implantation and uncontrolled glaucoma with IOP of 18 mm Hg or greater and 40 mm Hg or lower on maximum tolerated medical therapy. Excluding patients who had died, the study had 82% follow-up at 5 years, with a similar proportion of patients in the tube and trabeculectomy groups. At 5-years, neither IOP (14.3 mm Hg in the tube group and 13.6 mm Hg in the trabeculectomy group) nor number of glaucoma medications (1.4 in the tube group and 1.2 in the trabeculectomy group) were significantly different with intent-to-treat analysis. The cumulative probability of failure over the 5 years was lower in the tube group than the trabeculectomy group (29.8% vs. 46.9%), and the rate of reoperation was lower (9% vs. 29%). The rate of loss of 2 or more lines of visual acuity was similar in the 2 groups (46% in the tube group and 43% in the trabeculectomy group).

Ex-PRESS Mini Shunt

Implantation of the Ex-PRESS mini shunt under a scleral flap was compared with standard trabeculectomy in a randomized study of 78 patients (80 eyes) with a diagnosis of open-angle glaucoma that could not be controlled with maximal-tolerated medical therapy. (5) The 2 groups were similar after randomization, with the exception of difference in the mean age (62 years for the Ex-PRESS group and 69 years for the trabeculectomy group). At an average 12 months’ follow-up, mean IOP had improved from 23 to 12 mm Hg in the Ex-PRESS group and from 22 to 14 mm Hg in the trabeculectomy group. Both groups of patients used fewer antiglaucoma medications postoperatively than before the procedure (from 2.8 at baseline to 0.3 in the Ex-PRESS group and from 3.0 at baseline to 0.6 in the trabeculectomy group). Twelve-month Kaplan-Meier success rates (defined as an IOP of >4 mm Hg and <18 mm Hg without use of antiglaucoma medications) were 82% for the Ex-PRESS shunt and 48% for trabeculectomy. There was a similar level of postoperative complications in the two groups.

iStent

Results from the iStent U.S. investigational device exemption (IDE) open-label 29 site multicenter randomized clinical trial were reported to the FDA in 2010, with 1-year results published in 2011 and 2-year results published in 2012. (6-8) The objective of the trial was to measure the incremental effect on IOP from iStent implantation over that of cataract surgery alone and to determine the potential benefit of combining 2 therapeutic treatments into 1 surgical event. A total of 240 patients (mean age of 73 years) with cataracts and mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma (IOP < 24 mm Hg controlled on 1 to 3 medications) underwent a medication washout period. Patients were randomized to undergo cataract surgery with iStent implantation or cataract surgery only if the unmedicated IOP was 22 mm Hg or higher and 36 mm Hg or lower. The mean number of medications at baseline was 1.5. The medicated IOP at baseline was 18.7 mm Hg in the stent group and 18.04 in the control group. After washout, the mean IOP was 25 mm Hg and mean visual acuity (logMAR) was 0.36. Follow-up visits were performed at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Results were assessed by intent-to-treat analysis with the last observation carried forward and per protocol analysis. Of the 117 subjects randomized to iStent implantation, 111 underwent cataract surgery with stent implantation, and 106 (91%) completed the 12-month postoperative visit. Of the 123 subjects randomized to cataract surgery only, 117 underwent cataract surgery and 3 exited the study because of complications of cataract surgery. Of the remaining 114 subjects, 112 (91%) completed the 12-month visit. The proportion of eyes meeting both the primary (unmedicated IOP <21 mm Hg) and secondary outcomes (IOP reduction >20% without hypotensive medications) was higher in the treatment group than in the control group through 1-year follow-up. At 1-year follow-up, 72% of treatment eyes and 50% of control eyes achieved the primary efficacy endpoint. The proportion of patients achieving the secondary efficacy endpoint at 1 year was 66% in the treatment group versus 48% in the control group. Ocular hypotensive medications were initiated later in the postoperative period and used in a lower proportion of patients in the treatment group throughout 1-year follow-up (e.g., 15% vs. 35% at 12 months). The mean reduction in IOP was similar in the 2 groups, with a slightly higher level of medication used in the control group (mean of 0.4 medications) in comparison with the treatment group (0.2 medications) at 1 year.

At 2-year follow-up, there were 199 of the original 239 patients (83%) remaining in the study. The primary endpoint, IOP of 21 mm Hg or less without use of medication, was reached by 61% of patients in the treatment group compared to 50% of controls (p=0.036). (8) The secondary outcomes of IOP reduction of 20% or more without medication (53% vs. 44%) and mean number of medications used (0.3 vs. 0.5) were no longer significantly different between the groups at 2 years. As noted by the FDA, this study was conducted in a restricted population of patients who had an unmedicated IOP of 22 mm Hg or higher and 36 mm Hg or lower. The results of this study indicate that treatment of this specific population with a microstent is likely to improve outcomes at 1 year compared to cataract surgery alone. However, given the 2-year results of this study, it is not possible to conclude with certainty that health outcomes are improved at longer periods of follow-up.

In 2010, Fea reported a randomized double-blind clinical trial of cataract surgery with or without iStent implantation (2:1 ratio) in 36 patients. (9) Inclusion criteria were a previous diagnosis of primary open-angle glaucoma with an IOP above 18 mm Hg at 3 separate visits, and on 1 or more hypotensive medications. The stent was implanted using the same small temporal clear corneal incision (approximately 3.0 mm) that had been used for phacoemulsification and intra-ocular lens placement and was guided into Schlemm’s canal by an applicator and ab interno gonioscopy. Follow-up visits with investigators who were masked to the treatment condition were conducted at 24 hours, 1 week, and 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 months. Prescription of hypotensive medications was performed according to pre-set guidelines. Primary outcomes were IOP and reduction in medication use over 15 months and IOP after a 1-month washout of ocular hypotensive agents (16 months postoperatively). At baseline, IOP was an average of 17.9 mm Hg with 2.0 medications in the stent group and 17.3 mm Hg with 1.9 medications in the control group. The mean IOP at 15 months was 14.8 mm Hg, with 0.4 medications in the stent group and 15.7 mm Hg with 1.3 medications in the control group. Eight patients in the stent group (67% of 12) and 5 in the control group (24% of 21) did not require ocular hypotensive medication. The authors commented that patient compliance is an ongoing concern for most ophthalmologists; therefore, a main goal is to keep the patient as free as possible from medications postoperatively. After washout of medications, mean IOP was 16.6 in the stent group and 19.2 in the control group. Two stents were malpositioned, but 1 of these appeared to be functioning, and there were no reported adverse events related to stent implantation. This small study suggests that without hypotensive medication, the iStent lowers IOP by about 2.5 mm Hg beyond that generated by cataract surgery alone (approximately 25% decrease in the risk of glaucomatous progression).

Use of multiple iStents in combination with cataract surgery was reported in an open-label prospective series of 53 eyes (47 patients) in 2012. (10) Of the 53 eyes, 28 had implantation of 2 stents and 25 had implantation of 3 stents, based on the need for greater IOP control, as determined by the operating surgeon. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) improved or remained stable in 89% of eyes. IOP decreased from a mean of 18.0 m Hg to 14.3 mm Hg, and the number of hypotensive medications decreased from a mean of 2.7 to 0.7 at 1 year postoperatively. Target IOP was reached in 77% of eyes, while 59% of patients discontinued use of all medications in the study eye. At 1 year, the mean number of hypotensive medications decreased to 1.0 in the 2-stent group and 0.4 in the 3-stent group. Medication use had been stopped in 46% of eyes in the 2-stent group compared to 72% in the 3-stent group. Stent blockage occurred in the early postoperative period in 15% of eyes and was successfully treated with laser.

Aqueous Shunts and Stents Not Approved by the FDA

Case series has been identified on the EyePass and CyPass® micro-stent. (11, 12) The CyPass® has not received FDA approval/clearance at this time. The EyePass is no longer being developed.

Clinical Input Received through Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers

While the various physician specialty societies and academic medical centers may collaborate with and make recommendations during this process through the provision of appropriate reviewers, input received does not represent an endorsement or position statement by the physician specialty societies or academic medical centers, unless otherwise noted.

In response to requests, input was received from 1 physician specialty societies and 2 academic medical centers while this policy was under review in 2013. The input supported use of aqueous shunts in patients with moderate to severe glaucoma uncontrolled by medication. Input supported use of a single micro-stent in patients with mild to-moderate glaucoma undergoing cataract surgery to reduce side effects of medications and to avoid non-compliance.

Ongoing Clinical Trials

Searches for aqueous shunts and glaucoma at online site http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ found a number of clinical trials in progress.

Summary

Randomized controlled trials have shown that the use of large externally placed shunts with extraocular reservoirs results in success rates as good as standard filtering surgery (trabeculectomy). Shunts have a different side effect profile and avoid some of the most problematic complications of trabeculectomy. Therefore, use of FDA-approved shunts may be considered medically necessary as a method to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with moderate to severe glaucoma in whom medical treatments have failed to adequately control intraocular pressure. Aqueous shunts that are not FDA-approved/cleared, as well as all conditions for the approved devices aside from reducing IOP in patients with glaucoma in whom medical therapy has failed, are considered investigational.

Use of micro-stents has been studied in patients with both cataracts and less advanced glaucoma, where the intraocular pressure (IOP) is at least partially controlled with medication. Results from these studies indicate that IOP may be lowered below baseline with decreased need for medication although the benefit appears to diminish after the first year. A micro-stent has received FDA approval for use in conjunction with cataract surgery for the reduction of IOP in adult patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma currently treated with ocular hypotensive medication. Based on the documented reduction in the need for medications and the clinical input received on this policy, use of a single FDA-approved micro-stent may be considered medically necessary when implanted concurrently with cataract surgery in patients who are unable to tolerate medication.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

A 2012 position statement by the American Glaucoma Society (AGS) states that new technology whose intraocular pressure-lowering effect allows for a reduction in medications, or a reduction in the need for more advanced surgical care, or improves patient adherence to care, would provide advantages to glaucoma patients. (13) If effective and safe, the AGS believe that these benefits and the fact that these technologies will not have bleb-related complications would represent an “improvement in net health outcomes.” In addition, the AGS states that some categories of new surgical devices and techniques are utilized at the time of concomitant cataract surgery. Since cataract surgery alone has been shown to lower intraocular pressure, a control group of patients with similar entry criteria undergoing cataract surgery alone may be appropriate for these technologies.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) published a 2008 technology assessment on commercially available aqueous shunts, including the Ahmed, Baerveldt, Krupin, and Molteno devices. (2) The assessment indicated that in general, the IOP will settle at higher levels (approximately 18 mm Hg) with shunts than after standard trabeculectomy (14–16 mm Hg). Five-year success rates of 50% have been found for the two procedures, indicating that aqueous shunts are comparable with trabeculectomy for IOP control and duration of benefit (based on level I evidence; well-designed randomized controlled trials). The assessment indicated that although aqueous shunts have been generally reserved for intractable glaucoma when prior medical or surgical therapy has failed, indications for shunts have broadened (based on level III evidence; case series, case reports, and poor-quality case-control or cohort studies). The AAO concluded that based on level-I evidence, aqueous shunts offer a valuable alternative to standard filtering surgery or to cyclodestructive therapy for many patients with refractory glaucoma.

The 2010 Preferred Practice Patterns on primary open-angle glaucoma from the AAO states that glaucoma surgical procedures currently under evaluation are canaloplasty with a tensioning suture (Prolene [Ethicon Inc., Somerville, NJ]), ab interno trabeculotomy using the Trabectome (NeoMedix, Tustin, CA), trabecular meshwork bypass stent, and the Ex-PRESS mini glaucoma shunt (Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Ft. Worth, TX). (14) The AAO considers laser trabeculoplasty as initial therapy in selected patients or an alternative for patients who cannot or will not use medications reliably due to cost, memory problems, difficulty with instillation, or intolerance to the medication. The AAO considers nonpenetrating glaucoma surgery to be an alternative to trabeculectomy, although the precise role of nonpenetrating surgery in the surgical management of glaucoma remains to be determined. Nonpenetrating glaucoma surgery avoids a continuous passageway from the anterior chamber to the subconjunctival space, reducing the incidence of complications such as bleb-related problems and hypotony. The nonpenetrating procedures have a higher degree of surgical difficulty compared with trabeculectomy and require special instrumentation. The two main types of nonpenetrating glaucoma surgery are viscocanalostomy and nonpenetrating deep sclerectomy.

A 2011 technology assessment from the AAO (literature search up to October 2009) reviewed the evidence on novel, or emerging, glaucoma procedures. (15) Included in the technology assessment were devices and procedures that either had FDA clearance or were in phase III clinical trials in the U.S. at the time. These included the Ex-PRESS™ mini glaucoma shunt, the SOLX Gold Shunt, and the iStent, along with various surgical procedures. The technology assessment concluded that these techniques and devices are still in the initial state (<5 years) of clinical experience and lacking widespread use. The clinical studies generally provided only level III evidence in support of the procedures. Based on the literature available at the time, it was not possible to conclude whether the novel procedures were superior, equal to, or inferior to surgery such as trabeculectomy or to one another.

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence provided guidance on trabecular stent bypass microsurgery for open angle glaucoma in 2011. (16) The guidance states that current evidence on trabecular stent bypass microsurgery for open angle glaucoma raises no major safety concerns. There is evidence of efficacy in the short term, but this is based on small numbers of patients. Therefore, this procedure should only be used with special arrangements for clinical governance, consent, and audit or research.

Medicare National Coverage

There is no National Coverage Determination for aqueous shunts and stents for glaucoma.

References

  1. Minckler DS, Vedula SS, Li TJ et al. Aqueous shunts for glaucoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006; (2):CD004918.
  2. Minckler DS, Francis BA, Hodapp EA et al. Aqueous shunts in glaucoma: a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology 2008; 115(6):1089-98.
  3. Boland MV, Ervin AM, Friedman D et al. Treatment for Glaucoma: Comparative Effectiveness. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 60. (Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10061-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 12-EHC038-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2012.
  4. Gedde SJ, Schiffman JC, Feuer WJ et al. Treatment outcomes in the Tube Versus Trabeculectomy (TVT) study after five years of follow-up. Am J Ophthalmol 2012; 153(5):789-803 e2.
  5. de Jong LA. The Ex-PRESS glaucoma shunt versus trabeculectomy in open-angle glaucoma: a prospective randomized study. Adv Ther 2009; 26(3):336-45.
  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Executive Summary, Glaucos, Inc. iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent. 2010. Available online at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/MedicalDevices/MedicalDevicesAdvisoryCommittee/OphthalmicDevicesPanel/UCM220398.pdf. Last accessed October 8, 2013.
  7. Samuelson TW, Katz LJ, Wells JM et al. Randomized evaluation of the trabecular micro-bypass stent with phacoemulsification in patients with glaucoma and cataract. Ophthalmology 2011; 118(3):459-67.
  8. Craven ER, Katz LJ, Wells JM et al. Cataract surgery with trabecular micro-bypass stent implantation in patients with mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma and cataract: two-year follow-up. J Cataract Refract Surg 2012; 38(8):1339-45.
  9. Fea AM. Phacoemulsification versus phacoemulsification with micro-bypass stent implantation in primary open-angle glaucoma: randomized double-masked clinical trial. J Cataract Refract Surg 2010; 36(3):407-12.
  10. Belovay GW, Naqi A, Chan BJ et al. Using multiple trabecular micro-bypass stents in cataract patients to treat open-angle glaucoma. J Cataract Refract Surg 2012; 38(11):1911-7.
  11. Dietlein TS, Jordan JF, Schild A et al. Combined cataract-glaucoma surgery using the intracanalicular Eyepass glaucoma implant: first clinical results of a prospective pilot study. J Cataract Refract Surg 2008; 34(2):247-52.
  12. Hoeh H, Ahmed II, Grisanti S et al. Early postoperative safety and surgical outcomes after implantation of a suprachoroidal micro-stent for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma concomitant with cataract surgery. J Cataract Refract Surg 2013; 39(3):431-7.
  13. American Glaucoma Society. Position statement on new glaucoma surgical procedures. 2012. Available online at: http://www.americanglaucomasociety.net/professionals/policy_statements/new_glaucoma_surgical_procedures. Last accessed October 8, 2013.
  14. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Preferred practice pattern: Primary open-angle glaucoma 2010. Available online at: http://one.aao.org/ce/practiceguidelines/ppp_content.aspx?cid=93019a87-4649-4130-8f94-b6a9b19144d2. Last accessed October 8, 2013.
  15. Francis BA, Singh K, Lin SC et al. Novel glaucoma procedures: a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology 2011; 118(7):1466-80.
  16. National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE). Trabecular stent bypass microsurgery for open angle glaucoma. 2011. Available online at: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13157/54571/54571.pdf. Last accessed October 8, 2013
  17. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Aqueous Shunts and Stents for Glaucoma. Medical Policy Reference Manual, Policy 9.03.21, 2013.

Coding

Codes

Number

Description

CPT

0191T

Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; internal approach, into the trabecular meshwork

 

0192T

Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; external approach (deleted effective 12/31/13)

 

0253T

Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; internal approach, into the subarachnoid space

 

66180

Aqueous shunt to extraocular reservoir (e.g., Molteno, Schocket, Denver-Krupin)

 

66183

Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir, external approach (effective 01/0114)

 

66999

Unlisted procedure, anterior segment of eye

ICD-9 Procedure

   

ICD-9 Diagnosis

365.00 - 365.89

Glaucoma code range

ICD-10-CM
(effective 10/01/14)

H25.011 - H26.9

Cataract code range

 

H40.1 - H42

Glaucoma code range

ICD-10-PCS
(effective 10/01/14)

 

ICD-10-PCS codes are only used for inpatient services. There is no specific ICD-10-PCS code for this procedure.

HCPCS

L8612

Aqueous shunt

Type of Service

Vision

 

Place of Service

Inpatient

 

Appendix

N/A

History

Date

Reason

04/13/10

Add to Vision Section - New Policy

07/12/11

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search through February 2011; references added and reordered; clinical input reviewed; canaloplasty medically necessary under specified conditions. CPT and ICD-10 codes added to policy.

01/10/12

Replace policy – Section on canaloplasty moved to new policy #9.03.26 Viscocanalostomy and Canaloplasty. HCPCS code C1783 added to policy.

07/10/12

Replace policy - The words and devices were removed from policy title. Policy updated with literature search through March 2012; references 3, 12 and 13 added; 1 reference removed. Policy statement is unchanged.

10/09/12

Update Coding Section – ICD-10 codes are now effective 10/01/2014. Add Related Policy 9.03.23.

12/11/12

Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search through August 2012; references 4 and 8 added; some references removed. FDA approval of iStent updated; “stent” added to title and new investigational policy statement.

04/17/13

Update Related Policies – Add 9.03.18.

11/11/13

Replace policy. Policy updated with literature search through August 13, 2013; references 10,12 and 13 added; clinical input reviewed; a single iStent considered medically necessary in patients with mild to moderate glaucoma when implanted in conjunction with cataract surgery. CPT codes 66170 – 66175 removed from the policy; not applicable. HCPCS code C1783 removed as this paid via facility; L8612 added, as it is specific to this policy.

12/23/13

Coding Update. Add CPT 66183 effective 01/01/14; 0192T discontinued effective 12/31/13.


Disclaimer: This medical policy is a guide in evaluating the medical necessity of a particular service or treatment. The Company adopts policies after careful review of published peer-reviewed scientific literature, national guidelines and local standards of practice. Since medical technology is constantly changing, the Company reserves the right to review and update policies as appropriate. Member contracts differ in their benefits. Always consult the member benefit booklet or contact a member service representative to determine coverage for a specific medical service or supply. CPT codes, descriptions and materials are copyrighted by the American Medical Association (AMA).
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