Optimizing single-use CT contrast vials reduces waste by almost 60%

2020 02 06 22 25 0448 Contrast Injector 400

Using "optimized" single-use iodinated contrast media (ICM) vials for CT exams reduces waste of the medium by almost 60%, a research team has found.

Optimizing contrast administration makes sense not only for patients but also for a department's bottom line, wrote a team led by Eric Pepin, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The findings were published August 3 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

"[Our] investigation showed that there can be significant [contrast media] waste reduction and, in turn, cost savings if a more diversified approach to inventory management is implemented," the group noted.

Iodinated contrast media (ICM) is used in almost half of CT exams, the team noted. It comes in both single- and multiuse vials of varying volumes, but in an effort to save costs, CT departments often stock only a single volume or limited number of vial sizes -- a practice that can not only contribute to waste but also make the department vulnerable to supply chain issues (such as a 2022 scarcity of GE Healthcare's Omnipaque due to a lockdown of the company's Shanghai production facility).

Pepin and colleagues sought to assess contrast waste via a study they conducted that compared estimated waste between single-use vials with a range of volumes to multiuse vials. The study included data from 40,393 intravenous contrast media dispensations in 26,028 patients in 2021 in a department that stocked only 100-mL vials; mean dose was 103 mL. The investigators compared administered intravenous contrast media dose, opened ICM volume and number of vials, and wasted ICM to hypothetical models that would use single- and multiuse vials.

The group found that using "optimally sized" single-use vials were the most effective way to minimize contrast waste (for example, a 75 mL vial for a 72 mL administered dose); multiuse vials came in second for contrast waste reduction. These two protocols cut waste by 59% and 50%, the team reported.

Optimization of ICM by type of vial and protocol
Type of vial and protocol Contrast waste Mean waste per administration
Exclusive use of 100-mL vials 1 million mL 26 mL
Optimally sized single-use vials 436,515 mL 11 mL
Multiuse vials 537,074 mL 13 mL

Decreasing contrast media waste by stocking a variety of vial sizes just makes good sense, according to the group.

"Our retrospective review supports scrutiny of ICM inventory management to reduce waste, save costs, and mitigate impacts of supply chain disruptions," the team concluded.

The complete study can be found here.

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