Modifier 81

Minimum assistant surgeon


Modifier 81 is appended to the procedure code for an assistant surgeon who assists an operating or principal surgeon during part of a procedure. Check the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) Indicator/Descriptor Lists. Column A indicates if assistant at surgery is allowed.

Correct Use

  • Append to appropriate code when more than one assistant is involved or if one person assists during a portion of surgery. Includes physicians providing minimal assistance to primary surgeon. Must be used with Type of Service 8 codes.

This modifier identifies surgical assistant services

  • Indicates exceptional medical circumstances exist
  • Indicates primary surgeon has policy of never involving residents in preoperative, operative or postoperative care of his/her patients

Claim Coding Example

  • Fee Schedule Indicator Descriptor 2 = Payment restriction for assistants at surgery does not apply to this procedure. Assistant surgeon may be paid.
Treatment Description CPT/Modifier
Gastric Bypass for Morbid Obesity 43846 81




Last Updated Dec 09 , 2023