Multigated Acquisition Scan

What is it?

A multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan is a test that looks at the chambers and blood vessels of the heart. This test may also be called cardiac blood pooling imaging, nuclear ventriculography (ven-trik-u-LOG-rah-fee), or radionuclide (ray-dee-oh-NOO-kleyed) ventriculography. This test shows caregivers how well the left ventricle of your heart is pumping. Caregivers will also learn about your heart's ejection fraction (how much blood pumps out of your heart with each heart beat). Test results can also show how the walls of your ventricles move when they are contracting (beating) and resting.

Why do I need a MUGA scan?

You may need the test if you have one or more of the following medical conditions:

  • Atrial septal defect: This is a condition where there is a hole in the septum (wall) between the atrium (top two chambers) in your heart.

  • Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-oh-meye-OP-ah-thee) is a condition where a part of, or all of the heart gets too large. Types of cardiomyopathy include dilated, idiopathic (id-ee-oh-PATH-ik), and peripartum (per-i-PAHR-tum).

  • Heart failure: This is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood through your body well enough.

  • Lyme disease: This is an infection that is caused by a tick.

  • Mitral valve stenosis: This is a condition where there is swelling and scarring of the mitral valve leaflets (doors). The mitral valve is like a door between the right atrium and ventricle (chambers of the heart). The job of the mitral valve is to open and close to let blood move between the atrium and ventricle when the heart beats. This condition does not allow the mitral valve to work as well as it should.

  • Senile cardiac amyloid (AM-i-loid): This is a condition where a waxy, starch-like substance grows in the heart, keeping it from pumping correctly.

Who should not have this test?

You may not be able to have this test if your heart has been injured or if you had another type of nuclear scan. You may not be able to have this test if you take certain medicines used to treat a heart condition. This may include glyceryl trinitrate (nitroglycerin, Nitro-Bid®, Nitro-Dur®), and isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil®, Sorbitrate®). Tell your caregiver before the test if you are pregnant, or think you might be. Caregivers may suggest waiting to have the test until after your baby is born. Tell caregivers if you are breast feeding. They may suggest waiting to have the test until after you have finished breast feeding your baby. This should be done to prevent your baby from getting any of the radioactive tracer that is put into your body during the test.

What should I do to get ready for the MUGA scan?

  • Ask our caregiver for instructions about eating, drinking and tobacco use before your test.

  • Wear or bring comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and walking shoes.

  • Bring a list of all medicine you are taking, or the medicine containers. Ask caregivers if you need to stop taking any of your medicines for a time before the test.

  • If you have diabetes and are taking insulin, ask caregivers if you need to change the amount of insulin you take before this test.

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

How is a MUGA scan performed?

  • When you arrive at the Nuclear Medicine department, you may need to change into comfortable clothes. A caregiver puts an IV (intravenous line) into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. Electrodes (patches) will be placed on your chest. The electrodes record your electrocardiogram (ee-lek-troh-KAHR-dee-oh-gram) or “EKG”. This is a test that records the activity of your heart. A solution containing a tracer substance is put into the IV. The tracer attaches to red blood cells and moves through the heart as your blood circulates. The tracer can by tracked as it moves through the heart using a special camera or scanner. Your EKG may be taken at the same time as the pictures being taken.

  • A camera is placed over your chest to take the pictures. You will need to lie quietly while the pictures are taken. You may also need to be tested while you exercise, or after caregivers give you special medicine. If you need to be tested while exercising, you will walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. The speed and incline of the treadmill, or the resistance of the bicycle may be changed during the test. Caregivers watch your EKG and blood pressure while you are exercising.

What will I feel during the test?

You may feel discomfort when the IV is put in your vein before the test. Tell caregivers if you have chest pain, feel short of breath or dizzy, or your legs feel very tired.

What should I do after the scan?

After the scan, you may continue your usual activities, eat, drink, and take your usual medicines. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and juices, to help flush the tracer out of your body. The tracer leaves your body quickly through your urine. Your caregiver may tell you to flush the toilet three times after each time you use the toilet. This makes sure that the small amount of tracer that leaves your body does not stay in the toilet bowl.

What are the risks of having this test?

The place where you had the IV could bleed, become red, swollen, painful, or infected. There is a very small chance that you could have abnormal heartbeats or a heart attack. The amount of radiation that you receive is small and safe. If you do not have a MUGA scan, caregivers may not be able to decide the best way to treat your health problem. Your problem could get worse or you could die. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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