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IV contrast shortage affecting hospitals in Alabama

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 2:48 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A COVID shutdown at a facility in China is causing problems for hospitals around the world, including Alabama.

One issue is a shortage of IV contrast used in contrast imaging. It’s used for X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. One doctor tells WBRC they’re having to ration their supply. Contrast makes your blood light up as it passes through your heart so doctors can see blood flow.

Dr. Raul Magadia with Regional Medical Center said, “Obviously those ones who really need it the most. Emergency cases. We think that they are having strokes. Their leg is not getting enough blood supply. They need to have those. But for those with what we call elective cases, in an outpatient setting, we were told that they may have to be delayed a little bit or might have to do a different type of testing including MRI.”

Mason Frazier, M.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology, says contrast imaging is important part of medical imaging because it is used evaluate, diagnose, and treat many routine and more critical conditions, to include stroke, acute coronary syndrome, and trauma.

“UAB Hospital is the only Level I Trauma Center verified by the American College of Surgeons in the state of Alabama and is a major treatment center in the southeastern United States for patients suffering traumatic injury,” Frazier said. “Contrasted exams are a vital part of the evaluation process that helps guide management and treatment.”

Doctors say the facility in China has now reopened, but because of the backups from the shutdown, they expect the shortages to last for about six weeks.

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