ECU Health faces dye shortage amid Shanghai lockdowns

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 9:43 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Lockdowns in Shanghai, China have led to a lack of a substance called contrast dye, which is forcing people to delay important medical scans. WITN talked to officials at ECU Health about how they’re working around the shortage.

Dr. Walter Pofahl, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs, says contrast dye is something that is used for procedures like CT scans and X-rays.

“We have to function as if what we have on hand has to last us,” Dr. Pofahl said.

“It highlights the blood flow to the heart. It allows you to see where there are narrowings or blockages,” Dr. Pofahl explained.

He said ECU Health hasn’t gotten a shipment of the dye for about two weeks.

The shortage stems from lockdowns in Shanghai, where most of the U.S.’s supply of contrast comes from. “The heart team is looking at which patients can be safely delayed for about the next month until we get through this,” Dr. Pofahl said.

Staff members have been doing what they can to make what they have last longer.

“Our physicians and, frankly, our patients, have been great in terms of we’ve been able to cut our use by 50%,” Dr. Pofahl explained. “Really the next two weeks are gonna be the most critical. It’s when we anticipate the supply to be the tightest until things are back up to full speed.”

ECU Health officials say anyone getting a scan that uses contrast can feel reassured that it’s completely safe.

Shanghai is set to end its lockdown Wednesday, but that may not mean immediate relief for supply chain shortages that have gone on for weeks.

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