ALABAMA (WHNT) – COVID shutdowns in China are triggering supply-chain issues across the U.S. Here in Alabama, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Hospital is experiencing a shortage of contrast, the solution used in imaging procedures.

Contrast is a special dye that enhances what doctors can see on images from x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Doctors use contrast imaging to examine trauma in the body and diagnose a number of conditions including strokes.

UAB Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kierstin Kennedy says the shortage has required UAB doctors to find alternative procedures to diagnose patients.

“We’re just being very, very cautious about where we use contrast,” Kennedy said. “If there is any option for a different type of study, either a CT scan, for example, without contrast, or if there is the option to make the diagnosis with an ultrasound or MRI, we are trying to make sure that we use those study options.”

Radiologists are determining the lowest dosages of contrast that can be used and still produce accurate results.

Kennedy says the mitigation efforts are necessary because some diagnoses can only be made after using contrast imaging.