AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hospitals around the nation are being impacted by a shortage of contrast dye used in many medical procedures.
The dye, made by General Electric, is used in MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasounds and x-rays. It’s a primary tool for doctors to identify issues and make a proper diagnosis.
The increased contrast helps doctors more easily diagnose a brain bleed or clot, see how a heart or another organ is functioning or determine whether a tumor is growing or shrinking, among other things.
The shortage comes after a recent COVID-19 related factory shutdown in Shanghai.
What are the impacts?
The shortage is causing some medical professionals to pick who receives the procedure.
“We are having to prioritize certain patients, for example outpatients where even though the imaging is important, it is not acute or critical as someone who might go to the emergency room, so many of our outpatient studies are being delayed, and we are conserving the contrast to allow us to treat inpatients with more acute, more time-sensitive conditions,” said Dr. Zeke Silva with Methodist Healthcare System.
Some hospitals across the country are saying they’re delaying some medical procedures while others are using other tools to try to diagnose the issues, but experts are worried the shortage could lead to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
The shortage could last into the summer.