HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Hospitals nationwide are facing a shortage of IV contrast used in contrast imaging. At this time, many hospitals around Alabama are seeing this IV contrast shortage.

An increase of COVID-19 cases in China is leading to shutdowns in the country, which is causing problems throughout the U.S.

According to UAB’s Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kierstin Kennendy, the solution is used for X-Rays, MRI, and CT scans, making blood light up as it passes through the body allowing doctors to see better flow in images.

“We have reached out to all vendors who make this product or any version of this product and haven’t had any luck of getting any alternative forms of IV contrast,” Dr. Kennedy said.

Medical professionals with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other hospitals in the state expect their current supply to only last through the next 3 weeks.

At this time, they are looking into different options like an alternative imaging strategy that does not require contrast, modifying doses to the minimum amount needed, and postponing non-emergency procedures. All of this is in hopes the current supply will last through the next six weeks.

“If someone is potentially having a stroke, or if someone comes in and they are having a heart attack and we need to be able to do a heart catheterization,” Dr. Kennedy said. “We can find where the blockage is and fix that, we need to make sure that contrast is available.”

In the Wiregrass, Southeast Health is also being impacted. The hospital told WDHN in a statement.

“This is a nationwide issue, and yes it is affecting Southeast Health, currently we are tracking our inventory very closely and we have worked with our medical staff to put a conservation plan in place.”

Southeast Health

“If you have a condition that cannot allow us to treat you or diagnose you without contrast, you should not worry that you aren’t going to get what you need,” Dr. Kennedy said. “We are making sure that we have that available so we don’t have to change that level of care.”

According to experts, hospitals are still getting some shipments, just not as much as before and they expect this IV contrast shortage to last until the end of June.