Calgary

Alberta postpones medical imaging procedures due to global dye shortage

A shortage of contrast dye has prompted Alberta Health Services to hit pause on as many as 1,500 imaging procedures per week.

Alberta Health Services to begin postponing up to 1,500 imaging procedures per week

A shortage of contrast dye has prompted Alberta Health Services to hit pause on as many as 1,500 imaging procedures per week. (David Bajer/CBC)

Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced Friday that — due to a worldwide shortage of contrast dye — it has started postponing as many 1,500 imaging procedures per week.

The dye is used in CT scan imaging and angiographic procedures. AHS said imaging procedures will only be deferred if it is considered clinically safe to do.

"Patients with critical needs will continue to be prioritized as radiologists and other physicians review all requests for imaging and intervention," it said in a release.

Officials said they are considering the use of alternate imaging options, such as ultrasound and MRI. AHS said it is contacting all affected patients directly.

Contrast dyes are materials used to enhance the visibility of certain blood vessels, organs or other body structures in CT and other imaging procedures. 

The health authority said it usually performs about 10,000 imaging scans per week, of which about 50 per cent use the dye. 

Alberta is not the only health system affected by the dye shortage. It said the situation is affecting healthcare systems across the continent, according to AHS. It said it will continue to update the public on developments.

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