Hospitals urged to consider delaying CT scans due to shortage of medical die

Home Health Hospitals urged to consider delaying CT scans due to shortage of medical die
Hospitals urged to consider delaying CT scans due to shortage of medical die

Patients off to see a doctor for a CT scan may be asked to have it deferred amid a global shortage of a vital medical tool.

Hospitals and health professionals are being urged to consider delaying non-urgent CT scans following a global shortage of a medical dye brought on by recent Covid lockdowns in China.

Australia’s biggest supplier, GE Healthcare, has notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of a shortage of contrast media, saying normal supplies are expected to resume in mid-June.

The Covid outbreak and lockdown in Shanghai has affected the company’s manufacturing plant and caused freight delays, impacting local and global supply.

Iodine-containing contrast medium – sometimes called contrast – is the chemical substance used in X-ray imaging, CT scans and angiograms.

When injected, it enables a radiologist to see what’s happening in hollow parts of the body, including blood vessels, the stomach, bowel or around the spinal cord on X-ray images.

It’s typically used in more than 50 per cent of CT imaging and can give information about how organs, such as kidneys, brains and lungs, are working and detect bone problems and tumours.

To help reduce the impact of the shortage, the TGA has authorised the supply of an overseas registered product and is considering other similar applications.

Meanwhile, the regulator is urging health professionals to urgently conserve stock and consider delaying non-urgent scans until the shortage is resolved.

“Current supply is very limited,” the TGA said in a statement.

“The TGA is working with a range of stakeholders to manage the shortage.”

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists has recommended doctors who are considering referring a patient for a CT or other imaging should consult with a radiologist about other strategies to diagnose conditions.

Meanwhile, the TGA said patients referred to see a doctor for a CT scan may be asked by their referring medical practitioner to have it deferred.

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