Medical Policies - DME
Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE)
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Skin contact monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE™) is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven for all indications, including but not limited to treatment of cutaneous ulcers, diabetic neuropathy, and musculoskeletal conditions, (such as temporomandibular disorders, tendonitis, capsulitis, and myofascial pain).
Monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE™) treatment is a therapy that uses infrared light therapy through contact with the skin for potential use in multiple conditions including cutaneous ulcers, diabetic neuropathy, and musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries.
MIRE refers to light at a wavelength of 880 nm. MIRE can be delivered through pads containing an array of 60 superluminous infrared diodes emitting pulsed near-infrared irradiation. The pads can be placed on the skin, and the infrared energy is delivered in a homogeneous manner in a session lasting from 30 to 45 minutes.
MIRE devices have been investigated as a treatment of multiple conditions including cutaneous ulcers, diabetic neuropathy, musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries, including temporomandibular disorders, tendonitis, capsulitis, and myofascial pain. MIRE devices are also being developed for the treatment of baldness and snoring. The proposed mechanism of action is not known, although some sort of photobiostimulation has been proposed, as well as increased circulation related to an increase in plasma of the potent vasodilator nitric oxide.
The Anodyne® Professional Therapy System is a MIRE device that received marketing clearance from the FDA in 1994 through the 510(k) process. A device specifically for home use is also available. The labeled indication is for "increasing circulation and decreasing pain." The Clarimedix® system (Clarimedix), received 510(k) clearance in 2006 (K062635) listing the SMI™ SpectroPad (a.k.a. Anodyne® Therapy System) as a predicate device. Clarimedix is indicated for use for the treatment of chronic pain by emitting energy in the infrared spectrum for the temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain, arthritis and muscle spasm; relieving stiffness; promoting relaxation of muscle tissue; and to temporarily increase local blood circulation where applied. The HealthLight™ infrared therapy device (Bioremedi Therapeutic Systems) received marketing clearance from the FDA in 2011 (K101894) listing the SMI™ SpectroPad as a predicate device. The BioRemedi HealthLight™ System is available by prescription only and is indicated for heat therapy, i.e., temporarily relieves minor pain, stiffness, and muscle spasm and temporarily increases local blood circulation.
This policy was originally developed in 2004 and has been updated with searches of peer reviewed literature through July 2018. The following is a summary of key literature to date.
Assessment of efficacy for therapeutic interventions involves a determination of whether the intervention improves health outcomes. The optimal study design for a therapeutic intervention is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that includes clinically relevant measures of health outcomes. Intermediate outcome measures, also known as surrogate outcome measures, may also be adequate if there is an established link between the intermediate outcome and true health outcomes. Nonrandomized comparative studies and uncontrolled studies can sometimes provide useful information on health outcomes, but are prone to biases such as non-comparability of treatment groups, the placebo effect, and variable natural history of the condition. Literature searches have identified 6 controlled trials of skin contact monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) therapy and 2 systematic reviews of the technology. Following is a summary of the key literature to date.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
A 2008 systematic review included all clinical studies, including retrospective and prospective experimental studies and case series, evaluating MIRE for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. (1) Ten studies were identified, including 4 retrospective chart reviews, 5 studies with an experimental research design, and 2 studies that used a prospective randomized, placebo-controlled design (discussed next). Six of the 10 studies had a sample size of 50 subjects or less. Although the studies suggested that MIRE had efficacy for improving lower-extremity sensation, balance, gait, and decreasing fall risk, the systematic review concluded that poor study designs, small sample sizes, limited information regarding treatment volume or intensity, concomitant use of conventional physical therapy modalities, and a lack of long-term follow-up decreased the validity of most of the studies.
A 2011 systematic review examined the use of physical therapy interventions for balance dysfunction in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. MIRE was one of several interventions evaluated, and there was insufficient evidence to recommend MIRE as a treatment for balance dysfunction. (2)
A double-blind RCT with 69 patients with diabetes and a vibration perception threshold between 20 and 45 V were randomized to active or sham treatment (7 d/wk for 90 days). (3) Objective measures (Semmes-Weinstein monofilament testing, vibration perception threshold, and nerve conduction velocity) did not improve in either group. The subjective Neuropathy-specific Quality-of-Life instrument showed at least as much improvement in the sham control as in the active group.
Two additional sham-controlled RCTs found MIRE to be no more effective than sham stimulation in treating patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. (4,5) Clifft et al. reported a double-blind controlled trial with 39 subjects randomized to active or sham MIRE 3 times a week for 4 weeks. (4) Both groups showed significant improvements in plantar sensation after 4 and 8 weeks, with no significant difference between the active and sham groups. Nawfar and Yacob reported a single-blinded study with 30 feet from 24 patients randomized to 12 daily treatments of active or sham MIRE. (5) There was no significant difference between active or sham treatment groups in current perception threshold measured at 6 weeks and 3 months following treatment.
Patients served as their own controls in 2 studies (1 limb treated with an active device and the other limb treated with a sham device). Franzen-Korzendorfer et al. conducted a clinical study in patients with diabetes and loss of protective sensation 1) to examine the effects of MIRE neuropathy protocol on sensation on the feet of patients with diabetes and a loss of protective sensation; 2) to determine the effects of a published MIRE neuropathy protocol on sensation of the feet of patients with diabetes and a loss of protective sensation; 3) to examine MIRE's effect on pain; and 4) to examine the relationship between transcutaneous oxygen levels and loss of protective sensation. (6) Participants underwent a series of twelve 30-minute MIRE treatments 2 to 4 times per week for 3 to 5 weeks. No significant differences were observed between active and sham treatments for transcutaneous oxygen values, pain, or sensation. Both active and sham MIRE-treated feet had significantly improved sensation when compared with pretest baseline scores. No statistical relationship was found between transcutaneous oxygen and sensation.
Leonard et al. reported on the results of a sham-controlled randomized trial of 27 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. (7) Patients served as their own controls as each limb was treated either with an anodyne device or a placebo device for 2 weeks, then both limbs were treated with the anodyne device. Outcomes were assessed with a Semmes-Weinstein monofilament. The authors reported improved sensitivity, less pain, and better balance in limbs treated with the active device.
Several retrospective or prospective case studies were identified that reported that MIRE treatment was associated with an improvement in peripheral neuropathy, as measured by changes in sensitivity recorded by the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament. (8-10) The lack of a control group limits interpretation of these studies. Thomasson reported on the outcomes of a series of 563 patients treated with skin contact MIRE who were diagnosed with trapezius tendonitis, splenius capitis tendonitis, temporomandibular capsulitis, or myofascial pain. (11) Patients were treated with 1 to 12 sessions of skin contact MIRE. The authors report an 88% to 90% improvement rate within each diagnostic group. However, there was no control group or a discussion of how treatment response was assessed. Kochman et al. reported on the use of skin contact MIRE in the treatment of 49 patients with diabetic neuropathy. (12) The principal outcome was change in sensation, as measured with a Semmes-Weinstein monofilament. Four diode arrays were used, the first placed on the distal posterior aspect of the tibia, the second placed over the anterior distal tibia, and the third and fourth placed on the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the foot, respectively. On the basis of Semmes-Weinstein monofilament values, 98% exhibited improved sensation after 6 treatments, and all had improved sensation after 12 treatments. However, the absence of a control group limits interpretation of these findings. Horwitz et al. investigated the use of skin contact MIRE as a technique to promote healing of 5 patients with venous or diabetic ulcers (4 patients) and 1 patient with an ulcer related to scleroderma. (13) Patients were instructed to use a skin contact MIRE device at home. While the ulcers improved in all patients, the small number of patients and the lack of a control group prevent scientific interpretation.
Section Summary: Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
The available controlled trials are small and of short duration. In 4 of 5 sham-controlled trials identified to date, MIRE therapy provided no more improvement in peripheral sensation, balance, pain, or quality of life than sham therapy in patients with peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
Randomized Controlled Trials
Hsieh et al. reported a double-blind randomized controlled trial of short-term MIRE for osteoarthritis (OA). (14) Seventy-three patients with knee osteoarthritis received six 40-minute sessions of active or placebo MIRE (sham control) over the knee joints for a period of 2 weeks. Outcomes were measured weekly over 4 weeks with a number of validated questionnaires that assessed pain, functioning, and quality of life. While some outcome measures showed improvement over time, there were no significant differences between the active and sham groups for any of the measured outcomes.
Summary of Evidence
The available literature regarding skin contact monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) as a technique to treat various cutaneous conditions consists of small controlled trials and observational studies. MIRE has also been investigated for knee osteoarthritis. The current evidence from the studies with the strongest methodology, i.e., sham-controlled trials with a between-group design, shows no improvement in outcomes for patients treated with MIRE. This evidence does not support the efficacy of this technology. Well- designed, prospective, randomized controlled trials with larger subject numbers are needed to determine with certainty whether MIRE is an effective treatment for cutaneous conditions. As a result, this technology is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven.
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There is no CPT code that specifically describes the use of skin contact monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) therapy. However, when the technique is offered in a clinic or physical therapy session, the nonspecific CPT code 97026 might be reported. Devices may also be used in the home setting. In this situation, the HCPCS code E0221 might be reported.
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The following codes may be applicable to this Medical policy and may not be all inclusive.
ICD-9 Diagnosis Codes
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ICD-9 Procedure Codes
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ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes
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ICD-10 Procedure Codes
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The information contained in this section is for informational purposes only. HCSC makes no representation as to the accuracy of this information. It is not to be used for claims adjudication for HCSC Plans.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does have a national Medicare coverage position.
A national coverage position for Medicare may have been changed since this medical policy document was written. See Medicare's National Coverage at <http://www.cms.hhs.gov>.
|8/15/2018||Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.|
|3/1/2017||Reviewed. No changes.|
|4/15/2016||Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.|
|5/15/2015||Reviewed. Coverage unchanged. Title changed from: Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE) as a Technique to Treat Cutaneous Ulcers, Diabetic Neuropathy, and Miscellaneous Musculoskeletal Conditions.|
|3/1/2014||Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged. Title changed from “Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE) Devices”.|
|2/1/2007||Revised/updated entire document|
|9/1/2004||New medical document|
|Title:||Effective Date:||End Date:|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE)||03-01-2017||08-14-2018|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE)||04-15-2016||02-28-2017|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE)||05-15-2015||04-14-2016|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE) as a Technique to Treat Cutaneous Ulcers, Diabetic Neuropathy, and Miscellaneous Musculoskeletal Conditions||03-01-2014||05-14-2015|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy Devices (MIRE)||04-15-2008||02-28-2014|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy Devices (MIRE)||02-01-2007||04-14-2008|
|Skin Contact Monochromatic Infrared Energy Devices (MIRE)||09-20-2004||01-31-2007|