Arizona hospitals concerned over global shortage of IV contrast dye

Hospitals all over the country are rationing CT scans and delaying procedures due to a shortage of contrast dye.

This began after a plant in Shanghai was put into COVID-19 lockdown, and now patients and doctors are being forced to look for alternative procedures.

Philip DiMarzio is a patient at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2021 and has been going through bouts of chemotherapy.

For him, the dye shortage is on his mind.

"Cancer can spread pretty fast and so if you have wait on a treatment, it is not like a sprained ankle and can't do your X-ray," DiMarzio said. "It is a bit more important."

The contrast dye can be lifesaving in many ways. It allows oncologists to use it to track cancerous tumors or conduct CT scans.

"For a lot of applications, you do need IV contrasts to better visualize blood vessels," said Dr. Alex Bowman.

Bowman says that while there is a shortage of one type of dye, forcing many to delay procedures, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center isn't in the same situation because they use a different type of contrast fluid.

"Some of ours has been allocated throughout the Banner systems for these critical applications," Bowman said.

As a result, however, it is causing doctors to look at different options like blood tests where they can look for residual cancer DNA.

Luckily for Phil, he is able to receive these kinds of procedures. In the meantime, he's focusing on his fight day by day.

"Cancer is my enemy," said DiMarzio. "I have to be as proactive as I can be."