Medicare Benefits Schedule - Item 39116

Search Results for Item 39116

View Associated Notes



39116 - Additional Information

Item Start Date:
Description Updated:
Schedule Fee Updated:

T8 - Surgical Operations
7 - Neurosurgical

Left thoracic percutaneous zygapophyseal joint denervation by radio-frequency probe or cryoprobe using radiological imaging control

Applicable to one or more services provided in a single attendance, for not more than 3 attendances in a 12 month period

Multiple Operation Rule


Fee: $339.30 Benefit: 75% = $254.50 85% = $288.45

(See para TN.8.4, TN.8.245 of explanatory notes to this Category)

Associated Notes



Aftercare (Post-operative Treatment)


Section 3(5) of the Health Insurance Act 1973 states that services included in the Schedule (other than attendances) include all professional attendances necessary for the purposes of post-operative treatment of the patient.  For the purposes of this book, post-operative treatment is generally referred to as "aftercare".

Aftercare is deemed to include all post-operative treatment rendered by medical specialists and consultant physicians, and includes all attendances until recovery from the operation, the final check or examination, regardless of whether the attendances are at the hospital, private rooms, or the patient's home.  Aftercare need not necessarily be limited to treatment given by the surgeon or to treatment given by any one medical practitioner.

If the initial procedure is performed by a general practitioner, normal aftercare rules apply to any post-operative service provided by the same practitioner.

The medical practitioner determines each individual aftercare period depending on the needs of the patient as the amount and duration of aftercare following an operation may vary between patients for the same operation, as well as between different operations.

Private Patients

Medicare will not normally pay for any consultations during an aftercare period as the Schedule fee for most operations, procedures, fractures and dislocations listed in the MBS item includes a component of aftercare.

There are some instances where the aftercare component has been excluded from the MBS item and this is clearly indicated in the item description.

There are also some minor operations that are merely stages in the treatment of a particular condition.  As such, attendances subsequent to these services should not be regarded as aftercare but rather as a continuation of the treatment of the original condition and attract benefits.  Likewise, there are a number of services which may be performed during the aftercare period for pain relief which would also attract benefits.  This includes all items in Groups T6 and T7, and items 39013, 39100, 39110, 39014, 39111, 39116, 39117, 39118, 39119, 39121, 39127, 39130, 39133, 39136, 39324 and 39327.

Where there may be doubt as to whether an item actually does include the aftercare, the item description includes the words "including aftercare".

If a service is provided during the aftercare phase for a condition not related to the operation, then this can be claimed, provided the account identifies the service as 'Not normal aftercare', with a brief explanation of the reason for the additional services.

If a patient was admitted as a private patient in a public hospital, then unless the MBS item does not include aftercare, no Medicare benefits are payable for aftercare.

Medicare benefits are not payable for surgical procedures performed primarily for cosmetic reasons.  However, benefits are payable for certain procedures when performed for specific medical reasons, such as breast reconstruction following mastectomy.  Surgical procedures not listed on the MBS do not attract a Medicare benefit.

Where an initial or subsequent consultation relates to the assessment and discussion of options for treatment and, a cosmetic or other non-rebatable service are discussed, this would be considered a rebatable service under Medicare.  Where a consultation relates entirely to a cosmetic or other non-Medicare rebatable service (either before or after that service has taken place), then that consultation is not rebatable under Medicare.  Any aftercare associated with a cosmetic or non-Medicare rebatable service is also not rebatable under Medicare.

Public Patients

All care directly related to a public in-patient's care should be provided free of charge.  Where a patient has received in-patient treatment in a hospital as a public patient (as defined in Section 3(1) of the Health Insurance Act 1973), routine and non-routine aftercare directly related to that episode of admitted care will be provided free of charge as part of the public hospital service, regardless of where it is provided, on behalf of the state or territory as required by the National Healthcare Agreement.  In this case no Medicare benefit is payable.

Notwithstanding this, where a public patient independently chooses to consult a private medical practitioner for aftercare, then the clinically relevant service provided during this professional attendance will attract Medicare benefits.

Where a public patient independently chooses to consult a private medical practitioner for aftercare following treatment from a public hospital emergency department, then the clinically relevant service provided during this professional attendance will attract Medicare benefits.


Where the aftercare for fractures is delegated to a doctor at a place other than where the initial reduction was carried out, then Medicare benefits may be apportioned on a 50:50 basis rather than on the 75:25 basis for surgical operations.

Where the reduction of a fracture is carried out by hospital staff in the out-patient or emergency department of a public hospital, and the patient is then referred to a private practitioner for aftercare, Medicare benefits are payable for the aftercare on an attendance basis.

The following table shows the period which has been adopted as reasonable for the after‑care of fractures:‑

Treatment of fracture of After-care Period
Terminal phalanx of finger or thumb 6 weeks
Proximal phalanx of finger or thumb 6 weeks
Middle phalanx of finger 6 weeks
One or more metacarpals not involving base of first carpometacarpal joint 6 weeks
First metacarpal involving carpometacarpal joint (Bennett's fracture) 8 weeks
Carpus (excluding navicular) 6 weeks
Navicular or carpal scaphoid 3 months
Colles'/Smith/Barton's fracture of wrist 3 months
Distal end of radius or ulna, involving wrist 8 weeks
Radius 8 weeks
Ulna 8 weeks
Both shafts of forearm or humerus 3 months
Clavicle or sternum 4 weeks
Scapula 6 weeks
Pelvis (excluding symphysis pubis) or sacrum 4 months
Symphysis pubis 4 months
Femur 6 months
Fibula or tarsus (excepting os calcis or os talus) 8 weeks
Tibia or patella 4 months
Both shafts of leg, ankle (Potts fracture) with or without dislocation, os calcis (calcaneus) or os talus 4 months
Metatarsals - one or more 6 weeks
Phalanx of toe (other than great toe) 6 weeks
More than one phalanx of toe (other than great toe) 6 weeks
Distal phalanx of great toe 8 weeks
Proximal phalanx of great toe 8 weeks
Nasal bones, requiring reduction 4 weeks
Nasal bones, requiring reduction and involving osteotomies 4 weeks
Maxilla or mandible, unilateral or bilateral, not requiring splinting 6 weeks
Maxilla or mandible, requiring splinting or wiring of teeth 3 months
Maxilla or mandible, circumosseous fixation of 3 months
Maxilla or mandible, external skeletal fixation of 3 months
Zygoma 6 weeks
Spine (excluding sacrum), transverse process or bone other than vertebral body
requiring immobilisation in plaster or traction by skull calipers
3 months
Spine (excluding sacrum), vertebral body, without involvement of cord, requiring
immobilisation in plaster or traction by skull calipers
6 months
Spine (excluding sacrum), vertebral body, with involvement of cord 6 months

Note: This list is a guide only and each case should be judged on individual merits.

Related Items: 30219 30223 32500 34521 34524 39013 39014 39015 39100 39110 39111 39116 39117 39118 39119 39121 39127 39130 39133 39136 39324 39327 41626 41656 42614 42644 42650



Percutaneous denervation (Items 39110, 39111, 39116 to 39119, 39323)

In the majority of circumstances, thermal radiofrequency should be the modality of choice. Pulsed radiofrequency should only be used in limited cases, such as when an anatomic abnormality precludes the correct positioning of a thermal radiofrequency probe.

Prior to commencing treatment, the patient should be made aware of:

(a) which modality is being used and why;

(b) what longevity of response is expected;

(c) the mechanism involved;

(d) technical details such as the temperature used;

(e) the evidence base for the modality recommended; and

(f) cost

Clear distinctions should be made between thermal (continuous) radiofrequency neurotomy and pulsed radiofrequency of the medial branch of the dorsal rami of spinal nerves for treatment of zygapophyseal pain.

Items 39110, 39111, 39116, 39117, 39118, 39119

There are six MBS items applicable to percutaneous neurotomy (items 39110, 39111, 39116, 39117, 39118 and 39119). The items relate to six regions of the spine (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical divided into left and right sides). These items commenced on 1 March 2022.

Effective 11 April 2022, there are new frequency claiming restrictions for these items.

A patient can now receive percutaneous neurotomy treatment in up to three episodes of care in a 12-month period. An episode of care means one or more percutaneous neurotomy services performed in a single attendance, where clinically relevant.

The percutaneous neurotomy items are claimable per joint treated, not per nerve or lesion.

For compliance purposes, practitioner should record the name of the joint/s that are being treated during an attendance in the patient’s clinical notes.

More than one joint in the same region can be treated and claimed on the same day (i.e. as part of the same episode), and joints in another region can also be treated in the same episode.

The Multiple Operation Rule will continue to apply when more than one joint is being treated in the same episode.

The 12-month period is a rolling period, commencing on the date of the first episode (for treatment provided on or after 11 April 2022), to a maximum of three episodes over the next 12 months. For example, if the first episode of treatment is provided on 20 April 2022, up to two further episodes of treatment can be provided up to 19 April 2023.

Treatment provided under these items from 1 March 2022 to 10 April 2022 (inclusive) will not be counted in the 12‑month period for the patient. 

Treatment of the T12/L1 zygapophyseal joint should be classified as a thoracic region procedure. Accordingly, the thoracic items 39116 or 39117 would be appropriate for such a procedure.

The C7/T1 facet joint is innervated by the medial branches of C7 and C8 (cervical region). Accordingly, the relevant cervical items 39118 or 39119 would be appropriate for such a procedure.

Item 39323

Item 39323 is limited to 6 services for a given nerve per 12-month period. The 12-month period will start from the first time the item has been claimed on or after 1 March 2022 and will continue on a rolling 12-month basis.

For compliance purposes, the applicable nerve name must be documented in the patient record and noted on Medicare claims for item 39323 e.g. ‘39323 - Right Genicular nerve.'

Related Items: 39110 39111 39116 39117 39118 39119 39323


  • Assist - Addition/Deletion of (Assist.)
  • Amend - Amended Description
  • Anaes - Anaesthetic Values Amended
  • Emsn - EMSN Change
  • Fee - Fee Amended
  • Renum - Item Number Change (renumbered)
  • New - New Item
  • NewMin - New Item (previous Ministerial Determination)
  • Qfe - QFE Change