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News & Trends - Medical Technology

Surgical procedures postponed amid shortage of medical imaging

Health Industry Hub | May 27, 2022 |
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MedTech News: Queensland Health will reschedule some non-urgent elective procedures due to a critical world-wide shortage of contrast solutions required for a range of medical imaging including computerised tomography (CT) scans.

GE Healthcare, the sponsor of Omnipaque (iohexol) and Visipaque (iodixanol), has notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of a shortage of multiple presentations of both these products due to reduced manufacturing capacity and freight delays caused by the recent unexpected COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai, China.

GE Healthcare is the largest supplier of contrast media in Australia and expects to resume normal supply in mid-June 2022

The disruption is due to supply chain issues related to COVID-19 lockdowns in Shanghai where the supplier’s production facility is situated.

Queensland Health’s Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Services Executive Director, Kirstine Sketcher-Baker, said the supply of the product Omnipaque (iohexol) and Visipaque (iodixanol), is not expected to be resolved until end of June. 

“However, it may take longer than this given the volatility of COVID-19 lockdowns in Shanghai,” she said.

“Along with the Federal Government, we are also investigating other sourcing options and strategies to conserve stocks and seek other alternatives until this issue is resolved.”

Critical priorities to be addressed by the new Labor government – Ian Burgess, MTAA

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) is liaising with the TGA which is seeking alternative supplies of contrast to address the shortfall.

RANZCR recommends that medical practitioners considering referring a patient for a CT during this time consult with a radiologist for advice on alternative imaging modalities or other strategies that could be used to diagnose and manage their patients. The peak body endorsed the recommendations of the America College of Radiologists (ACR) Committee that radiology practices and hospitals implement a range of strategies to
conserve current supplies of contrast to manage patient care.

Ms Sketcher-Baker said the Department of Health is working with its hospitals to determine what impact the shortage is having on clinical services.

“For the time being, we will need to reschedule some non-urgent elective procedures that require medical imaging until we can replenish stocks,” she said.

“This is unfortunate but unavoidable, as this product is essential for a number of procedures. We are hopeful of quickly resolving this issue with the supplier.”

Affected patients will be contacted by their treating hospitals to reschedule their procedures.


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