Hospitals and imaging centers forced to limit scans amid IV contrast shortage

 Due to global shortages of iohexol and iodixanol, contrast media products injected into patients during CT scans and other commonly used diagnostic imaging studies, some providers are having to postpone non-emergency imaging.

GE Healthcare, one of two major suppliers of contrast media in the US, has experienced manufacturing disruptions at its Shanghai facility amid China’s COVID lockdowns, and the company estimates the shortages could last through June. It is increasing production at an Ireland factory, and shipping via air cargo to the US, to speed up delivery.

The Gist: This shortage will have wider ranging impacts than just
delayed imaging procedures, as so many treatment decisions rely on the results of imaging tests. Contrast fluids are also used for vascular imaging, heart catheterization, and spinal interventions. A prolonged shortage could have far-reaching implications, limiting doctors’ ability to plan surgeries, monitor cancer progression, and perform imaging-guided treatments. 

Like so many recent supply shortages, this latest one shines a spotlight on providers’ “just-in-time” supply chain, and their over-reliance on single-source vendors.