Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Medical Policy


Medical Policy:
Endovascular Stent Grafts for Disorders of the Thoracic Aorta
Effective Date:
July 29, 2019
Issued Date:
July 27, 2020
Last Revision Date:
July 2019
Annual Review:
July 2020

This policy version was replaced on August 2, 2021. To find the newest version, go to, read and accept the Blue Cross Medical Policy Statement, then select “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Medical Policies.” This will bring up the Medical Policy search screen. Enter the policy number without the version number (last 3 digits).

Thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is a potentially life-threatening disorder involving a structural weakness of the aortic wall that results in progressive arterial dilation and potential rupture. Aneurysms are associated with age, atherosclerosis, and hypertension, as well as some congenital connective tissue disorders. The likelihood of significant sequelae from aortic aneurysm depends on the location, size, and underlying disease state. Left untreated, these aneurysms tend to enlarge over time, increasing the risk of rupture or dissection. Of greatest concern is the tendency for aortic aneurysms to rupture, with severe consequences including death.

Thoracic aortic dissection can be subdivided into type A, which involves the aortic arch, and type B, which is confined to the descending aorta. Type A dissections are usually treated surgically, while type B dissections are usually treated medically, with surgery indicated for serious complications, such as visceral ischemia, impending rupture, intractable pain, or sudden reduction in aortic size. Dissections associated with obstruction and ischemia can also be subdivided into an obstruction caused by an intimal tear at branch vessel orifices, or by compression of the true lumen by the pressurized false lumen. It has been proposed that endovascular therapy can repair the latter group of dissections by redirecting flow into the true lumen. The success of endovascular stent grafts of abdominal aortic aneurysms has created interest in applying the same technology to the aneurysms and dissections of the descending or thoracoabdominal aorta.

Standard treatment of unruptured TAAs involves open surgery to resect the aneurysm and implant a prosthetic graft. However, surgical repair is associated with substantial risk of serious intraoperative and postoperative complications, particularly since patients who have a TAA often have significant comorbidities. Thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair (TEVAR) is a less invasive treatment and involves the percutaneous placement of a stent graft in the descending thoracic or thoracoabdominal aorta. It is a less invasive alternative than open surgery for the treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms, dissections, or rupture, and thus has the potential to reduce the morbidity and mortality of open surgery. Endovascular stenting may also be an alternative to medical therapy for treating thoracic aortic aneurysms or thoracic aorta dissections.

This policy is designed to address medical guidelines that are appropriate for the majority of individuals with a particular disease, illness, or condition. Each person's unique clinical circumstances may warrant individual consideration, based on review of applicable medical records.

Policy Position Coverage is subject to the specific terms of the member's benefit plan.

I.   Endovascular stent grafts approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be considered MEDICALLY NECESSARY AND APPROPRIATE for the treatment of

  • Descending thoracic aortic aneurysms without dissection
  • Acute type B thoracic aortic dissection
  • Rupture of the descending thoracic aorta

II.  Endovascular stent grafts are considered EXPERIMENTAL/INVESTIGATIVE for the treatment of thoracic aortic lesions that do not meet the above criteria, including but not limited to, thoracic aortic arch aneurysms, due to the lack of clinical evidence demonstrating an impact on improved health outcomes.

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Denial Statements

No additional statements.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota medical policies apply generally to all Blue Cross and Blue Plus plans and products. Benefit plans vary in coverage and some plans may not provide coverage for certain services addressed in the medical policies. When determining coverage, reference the member’s specific benefit plan, including exclusions and limitations.

Medicaid products may provide different coverage for certain services, which may be addressed in different policies. For Minnesota Health Care Program (MHCP) policies, please consult the MHCP Provider Manual website.

Medicare products may provide different coverage for certain services, which may be addressed in different policies. For Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD), Local Coverage Determinations (LCD), and/or Local Coverage Articles, please consult CMS, National Government Services, or CGS websites. 

Note that services with specific coverage criteria may be reviewed retrospectively to determine if criteria are being met. Retrospective denial of claims may result if criteria are not met.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota reserves the right to revise, update and/or add to its medical policies at any time without notice. Codes listed on this policy are included for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Inclusion or exclusion of a code does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement. 

These guidelines are the proprietary information of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Any sale, copying or dissemination of the medical policies is prohibited; however, limited copying of medical policies is permitted for individual use.


CPT® codes copyright American Medical Association® 2022. All rights reserved.

CDT codes copyright American Dental Association® 2022. All rights reserved.