CT Contrast Shortage

June 16, 2022

In May, GE Healthcare announced a shortage of its iodinated contrast products, including OmnipaqueTM and VisipaqueTM. GE expected production to be near normal capacity by June 6, 2022

Iodinated contrast is used to provide enhancement of organs, tissues, and blood vessels for CT scans.

Our response: AIM Specialty Health® (AIM) manages prior authorizations for advanced imaging for many of our members. Here’s AIM’s response:  

What is AIM doing to address the contrast shortage?
AIM management focuses on the appropriateness of the modality. We leave decisions about whether to perform that modality with or without contrast to the radiologist/rendering provider.

For indications that cannot be adequately imaged by non-contrast CT, alternative advanced imaging modalities may be appropriate. Many AIM guideline indications have allowances for MRI and/or PET/CT “when CT cannot be performed or is non-diagnostic,” which would include scenarios such as this when contrast CT cannot be performed (and non-contrast CT is expected to be non-diagnostic).

Requests for alternative imaging made under such circumstances should include this detail (e.g. “iodinated contrast for CT is not available”) in the submitted prior authorization request, either by peer-to-peer discussion or via the free text entry option for online web portal requests.

Background: The shortage stemmed from COVID-19 policies leading to the temporary closure of its manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China. GE estimated an 80% reduction in the supply of Omnipaque for about 6–8 weeks.

GE took measures to stabilize their global supply by expanding production at their other plants around the world. They continue to work with impacted customers and their needs for the iodinated contrast media.

AIM Specialty Health (AIM) is an independent company that has contracted with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) to provide utilization management services for members with coverage through BCBSIL. BCBSIL makes no endorsement, representations or warranties regarding third party vendors and the products and services offered by them.