JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Supply chain issues are causing a major medical warning at hospitals across the country.
A certain type of dye used in CT scans is in short supply due to COVID-19 lockdowns in China where much of it is manufactured. That can affect a wide variety of medical issues ranging from strokes to traumatic brain injuries.
The expected backlog is expected to be resolved by the end of June, but for the time being, some hospitals are monitoring their supply and only using it in the most needed cases. Both the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, along with UF Health, say they’ve been affected by the supply issue.
“Along with other health care organizations across the country, Mayo Clinic is affected by a temporarily constrained supply of intravenous contrast. Mayo Clinic is conserving intravenous contrast as a proactive measure to ensure adequate supply to meet the needs of our patients,” said the Mayo Clinic in a statement to News4JAX.
We also spoke with Dr. David Caro at UF Health, as well. He said this type of dye is critical in all sorts of procedures — from diagnosing blood clots to strokes to cardiac catheterizations and traumatic brain injuries.
“Really forced us how to look how we use that dye,” said Caro.
But he pointed out that only CT scans need this when other scans don’t pick up specific issues.
“MRI scan is not affected by this shortage,” he said.
Caro added they are looking at other ways to detect medical issues in many forms of exams to offset the need for dye in CT scans.
On a personal note, I understand the need for this. My son Kade needed contrast in one of his early scans when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017. He’s fully recovered now, but the dye was needed in the initial diagnosis.
But not everyone is as fortunate. We also spoke with Dr. Carolyn McClanahan. She’s a local family doctor whose friend was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma. That’s one of the most deadly forms of brain tumor.
“What the contrast does is it goes through your blood system and it lights up certain things that you might not see on a plain image of a CT scan or an MRI. So like my friend who originally had an MRI without contrast, and I’m not sure whether it was because of the shortage or whether they just ordered a plain one to start, but it did not show the tumor initially,” said McClanahan.
Other hospitals are faring better. News4JAX spoke with HCA Florida Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center who both say they use a different provider of this type of dye and it’s not affecting them. Baptist Health provided a similar statement to News4JAX, saying, “We are aware of national shortages of contrast agents. However, Baptist Health purchases most contrast from a different vendor that is not impacted. We are being proactive in planning should we experience effects to our supply chain. No patients’ imaging or procedures have been impacted thus far.”
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