Medical Policy: 07.01.45 

Original Effective Date: July 2009 

Reviewed: March 2018 

Revised: March 2018 


Benefit Application:

Benefit determinations are based on the applicable contract language in effect at the time the services were rendered. Exclusions, limitations or exceptions may apply. Benefits may vary based on contract, and individual member benefits must be verified. Wellmark determines medical necessity only if the benefit exists and no contract exclusions are applicable. This medical policy may not apply to FEP. Benefits are determined by the Federal Employee Program.


This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.



This medical policy addresses anesthesia services during gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures. Anesthesia services include all services associated with the administration and monitoring of analgesia/anesthesia to a patient in order to produce partial or complete loss of sensation. Examples of various methods of anesthesia include moderate sedation, monitored anesthesia care, regional anesthesia and general anesthesia.


Moderate (conscious) sedation is generally used for both diagnostic and uncomplicated therapeutic procedures. Moderate sedation involves the administration of medication with or without analgesia to achieve a state of depressed consciousness while maintaining the patient's ability to respond to stimulation. It includes pre-and post-sedation evaluations, administration of sedation, and monitoring of cardiorespiratory functions. Moderate sedation is commonly performed using diazepines with or without narcotics. For routine endoscopic procedures and screenings among patients without risk factors or significant medical conditions, moderate sedation is considered a sufficient level of sedation. The class of drugs used for conscious sedation are designed to provide for sedation, hypnosis-like compliance, relieve anxiety, muscle relaxation, and anticonvulsant activity. The “side effect” that medical professionals most like about these drugs is that they generally induce anterograde amnesia (prevent memory by blocking the acquisition and encoding of new information). In other words, medical professionals like these drugs because most people will not remember what happens to them while under their effect even though they are “awake.” Not all drugs used for conscious sedation have amnesic effects.


Monitored anesthesia care (MAC) may include varying levels of sedation, anxiolysis, and analgesia. Based on the American Society of Anesthesiologists' (ASA) standard for monitoring, MAC is to be provided by qualified anesthesia personnel who provide or medically direct a number of specific services such as administration of sedatives, analgesics, hypnotics, anesthetic agents or other medications as necessary. Anesthesia care becomes general anesthesia if the patient loses consciousness and the ability to respond purposefully.


Prior Approval:

Not applicable



Moderate (conscious) sedation will continue to be reimbursed as an inherent part of the procedure when administered to average-risk adult patients undergoing general, diagnostic, uncomplicated, therapeutic endoscopy and colonoscopy. Moderate (conscious) sedation does not include minimal sedation (anxiolysis), deep sedation, or monitored anesthesia care.


Monitored anesthesia care and general anesthesia may be considered medically necessary during gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures when there is documentation by the operating physician or the anesthesiologist/CRNA of any of the following circumstances:

  • A history of or anticipated intolerance to standard sedatives (i.e., patient is on chronic narcotic or benzodiazepine therapy, or has a neuropsychiatric disorder)
  • Increased risk of complications due to a severe co morbidity (American Society of Anesthesiologists [ASA] class III physical status or greater). See additional information below.
  • Prolonged or therapeutic endoscopic procedure requiring deep sedation (examples include patients with adhesions after abdominal surgery, stent placement in the upper GI tract, and complex therapeutic procedures such as plication of the cardioesophageal junction. Polyp removal would not be considered a prolonged procedure).
  • Age 70 years and older
  • Pediatric age group (younger than 18 years)
  • Pregnancy
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Uncooperative or acutely agitated patient (i.e., delirium, organic brain disease, senile dementia)
  • Increased risk for airway obstruction due to anatomic variant including any of the following:
    • History of previous problems with anesthesia or sedation
    • History of stridor or sleep apnea
    • Dysmorphic facial features
    • Presence of oral abnormalities including but not limited to small oral opening (less than 3 cm in an adult), high arched palate, macroglossia, tonsillar hypertrophy, or non-visible uvula
    • Neck abnormalities including but not limited to short neck, obesity involving the neck and facial structures, limited neck extension, decreased hyoid-mental distance (less than 3 cm in an adult), neck mass, cervical spine disease or trauma, tracheal deviation, or advanced rheumatoid arthritis
    • Jaw abnormalities including but not limited to micrognathia, retrognathia, trismus, or significant malocclusion.


The routine assistance of an anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) for average-risk adult patients undergoing standard upper and/or lower gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures is considered not medically necessary.


It would not be advisable to use moderate sedation/monitored anesthesia care when conscious sedation would be efficient for the patient and/or the procedure. The higher risk associated with monitored anesthesia care makes the use less desirable when either sedation is efficient for the procedure.  The use of monitored anesthesia care is considered not medically necessary for gastrointestinal procedures in patients at average risk.


Additional Information

American Society of Anesthesiology Physical Status Classification:

  • Class I: Patient has no organic, physiologic, biochemical, or psychiatric disturbances. The pathologic process for which operation is to be performed is localized and does not entail systemic disturbance.
  • Class II: Mild or moderate systemic disturbance caused either by the condition to be treated surgically or by other pathophysiologic processes
  • Class III: Severe, systemic disturbance or disease from whatever cause, even though it may not be possible to define the degree of disability with finality.
  • Class IV: Severe systemic disorders that are already life threatening, not always correctable by operation.
  • Class V: The moribund patient who has little chance of survival but is submitted to operation in desperation.


Procedure Codes and Billing Guidelines:

  • To report provider services, use appropriate CPT* codes, Modifiers, Alpha Numeric (HCPCS level 2) codes, Revenue codes, and/or diagnosis codes.
  • 00731 Anesthesia for upper gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures, endoscope introduced proximal to duodenum; not otherwise specified
  • 00732 Anesthesia for upper gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures, endoscope introduced proximal to duodenum; endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • 00811 Anesthesia for lower intestinal endoscopic procedures, endoscope introduced distal to duodenum; not otherwise specified
  • 00812 Anesthesia for lower intestinal endoscopic procedures, endoscope introduced distal to duodenum; screening colonoscopy
  • 00813 Anesthesia for combined upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures, endoscope introduced both proximal to and distal to the duodenum 


Selected References:

  • Standards of Practice Committee, Lichtenstein DR, Jagganath S, Baron TH et al. Sedation and anesthesia in GI endoscopy. Gastrointest Endosc. 2008 August;68(2):205-16.
  • Cohen LB, Delegge MH, Aisenberg J et al. AGA Institute Review of Endoscopic Sedation. Gastroenterology2007 August;133(2):675-701.
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Sedation and Analgesia by Non-Anesthesiologists. Practice Guidelines for Sedation and Analgesia by Non-Anesthesiologists. Anesthesiology. 2002; 96(4):1004-1017.
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Distinguishing monitored anesthesia care ("MAC") from moderate sedation/analgesia. Amended October 21, 2009. Last accessed August 2012.
  • ECRI Institute Sedasys System for Automated Administration of Propofol Sedation. ECRI Institute. Plymouth Meeting (PA). Health Technology Forecast. 2012 Mar 16.
  • Agostoni M, Fanti L, Gemma M et al. Adverse events during monitored anesthesia care for GI endoscopy: an 8-year experience. Gastrointest Endosc. 2011 Aug;74(2):266-75. Epub 2011 Jun 25.
  • Berzin TM, Sanaka S, Barnett SR et al. A prospective assessment of sedation-related adverse events and patient and endoscopist satisfaction in ERCP with anesthesiologist-administered sedation. Gastrointest Endosc. 2011 Apr;73(4):710-7. Epub 2011 Feb 12.
  • Deepak A, Rockey D. Propofol for Screening Colonoscopy in Low-Risk Patients. JAMA Inern Med. Epub 2013 Jul 15.
  • New England Journal of Medicine, Journal Watch April 13 2012 and JW Gastroenterol Feb 17 2012). Routine Propofol Sedation Increases Risk During Colonoscopy
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Sedation and Analgesia by Non-Anesthesiologists. Practice guidelines for sedation and analgesia by non-anesthesiologists. Anesthesiology 2002; 96: 1004-17.
  • Heuss LT, Schnieper P, Drewe J, et al. Risk stratification and safe administration of propofol by registered nurses supervised by the gastroenterologists: a prospective observational study of more than 2000 cases. Gastrointest Endosc 2003; 57: 664-71.
  • Vargo, J., Niklewski, P., Williams, J., Martin, J., Faigel, D. Patient safety during sedation by anesthesia professionals during routine upper endoscopy and colonoscopy: an analysis of 1.38 million procedures. (2017) Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, (85), 101-108.
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Neuraxial Opioids and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine Practice Guidelines for the Prevention, Detection, and Management of Respiratory Depression Associated with Neuraxial Opioid Administration 2016
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Position on monitored anesthesia care (Amended October 16, 2013). 2013; 
  • ECRI Institute, Health Technology Assessment Special Report. Patient selection criteria for surgery and interventional pain management procedures performed in ambulatory settings. April 2017.


Policy History:

  • March 2018 - Annual Review, Policy Revised
  • March 2017 - Annual Review, Policy Renewed
  • March 2016 - Annual Review, Policy Revised
  • April 2015 - Annual Review, Policy Renewed
  • July 2013 - Annual Review, Policy Renewed
  • August 2012 - Annual Review, Policy Renewed
  • August 2011 - Annual Review, Policy Renewed

Wellmark medical policies address the complex issue of technology assessment of new and emerging treatments, devices, drugs, etc.   They are developed to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. Wellmark medical policies contain only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and do not constitute a contract. Wellmark does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Wellmark or its affiliates. Treating providers are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members. Our medical policies may be updated and therefore are subject to change without notice.


*CPT® is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.