CONWAY S.C. (WBTW) — A common dye used by doctors for CT scans as well as procedures for heart attacks and strokes is in short supply right now.

It’s called iodinated contrast.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Hospital Association have recommended that doctors limit how much they use it.

According to the hospital association, one of two large suppliers of the dye is having trouble.

The dye is injected into patients, allowing doctors to get a better look at a patient’s anatomy and organs.

“It helps us understand or visualize the architecture of the inside of a vessel,” Dr. Christine Carr, senior physician advisor with the hospital association, said. “Like, is there a nick, or a bump or a blockage on the inside of the vessel.”

DHEC said the shortage is the result of a temporary lockdown of a facility in China because of COVID-19. That factory produces a significant amount of contrast dye used around the globe.

The factory is open again, but DHEC thinks the shortage will last another six to eight weeks.

“One of the suppliers has a significant backlog, and that is GE Healthcare,” Carr said. “So hospitals that sourced their contrast from GE, as a preferred vendor, those are the hospitals impacted.”

DHEC is recommending ways hospitals can conserve, including preventing waste, using other imaging technologies, prioritizing which cases should receive contrast and delaying tests for people who can safely wait.

“Patients that really need surgery, we have alternative imaging modalities, you know, ultrasound, MRI, and non-contrasted CT scans,” Carr said.

Leaders at Conway Medical Center said that while they have seen the effects of the shortage, their team has worked hard to secure enough of the dye from other vendors so that patients can still get scans.

DHEC said it will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the global supply chain while making sure all South Carolinians receive the safest and timeliest care possible.