The hospital Clínic Barcelona joined GE HealthCare in its project to recycle iodinated contrast media, used in certain tests to diagnose diseases using computed tomography (CT). The hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Centre (CDI) incorporated this practice in November 2022, as part of its initiatives to improve sustainability and preserve the environment. This made it the first hospital in Catalonia to recycle this substance.
The use of iodinated contrast media allows for better visualization of the state of organs and blood vessels in imaging techniques, which favours more accurate diagnosis and treatment. It is a limited resource and an eventual shortage of supply could mean that fewer patients would benefit from this type of technology. Through the recycling process it is possible to recover the iodine, so that it can be used again.
David Buján, head nurse at the Diagnostic Imaging Centre, and head of this project at the hospital explains that, “the contrast media that, for various reasons, cannot be used in tests performed at the hospital, is now stored in special containers. When they are full, they are sealed and taken to the GE HealthCare facilities in Norway to give the contrast media a second lease of life”.
Dr. Luis San Román, head of the Radiodiagnosis Service at the Hospital Clínic, points out that it is a project that “is positive for us, for patients and for the environment, and also involves no cost to the hospital”.
The Hospital Clínic de Barcelona's Diagnostic Imaging Centre, which in the last year has performed a total of 45,000 CT scans and almost 4,000 PET-CT scans, joins other hospitals that already form part of this programme nationwide, and hopes to serve as a point of reference for the rest of the Catalan centres. It should be noted that iodine is a non-renewable resource with a high global demand, which is why it is essential to facilitate hospitals’ management of the recycling of uncontaminated contrast media in order to avoid waste.