(WGHP) — Millions of Americans are taking another hit from a shortage. This time, it’s affecting hospitals worldwide and here in the Piedmont Triad. 

Due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China. Hospitals are faced with a shortage of contrast dye and are now forced to ration the amounts they have left for emergency patients. Which causes problems for others who depend on them, like Janet Mazzurco.

“As a stage 4 cancer patient that is in the middle of a battle and a warrior, you live literally from scan to scan to scan,” said Mazzurco.

Mazzurco was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma cancer in 2014. She requires CT scanning of the entire body to check for tumors that could possibly grow, and the contrast dye makes it easier to detect.

Mazzurco said she found out about the shortage only days before her next appointment. 

“This kind of threw me over the edge because this was a train I did not see coming, and you just don’t expect that from our health care systems,” said Mazzurco.

She received a call from someone outside of the hospital giving her an option to continue with the appointment she had without the dye or reschedule months down the line.

“I did the scan, but honesty, for a cancer patient that fought the battle that I have for years, it was like doing no scan at all,” said Mazzurco.

The dye, made by General Electric, is used for many purposes, a lot of them lifesaving. 

It’s usually put into the body by injection to the veins and gives higher contrast than imaging procedures like CT scans without dye. The increased image helps doctors easily see if a tumor is shrinking or growing.

“This was one that has really had a great deal of anxiety and impact on me, where I have had to step back and re-evaluate everything I do in my life and try to stay away from everything that creates stress,” said Mazzurco.

Cone Health is limiting some non-emergency CT and cardiac scans due to a worldwide shortage of contrasting agents. This is due to manufacturing slowdowns caused by COVID-19 quarantines in China.

Iodinated contrast agents are used to make blood vessels, organs, and other body parts more visible to medical teams during scans. This aids in the diagnosis of disease and the treatment of various conditions.

Patients needing scans may be scanned using other contrasting agents may receive different types of scans or may be asked to delay their scans until iodinated contrast agents become available.

The worldwide shortage of contrasting agents may last a couple of months. Cone Health has teams monitoring the situation and developing alternatives.

People having questions about their scheduled CT scans should talk with their doctor.”

Cone Health

Novant Health said the hospitals are currently not seeing a shortage and are providing the same service. 

“Novant Health is not experiencing any impact due to the dye storage because we use independent supplier Bracco Imaging instead of GE Healthcare. We currently have adequate supply for all imaging.”

Novant Health

Mazzurco’s next appointment is in 60-90 days, and she’s hoping the hospitals will get shipments to the U.S. in time.