The MUGA (multi-gated acquisition) scan or radionuclide angiogram is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure to evaluate how well your heart functions.
Our team at Premier Cardiology Consultants in New York City may include a MUGA scan as part of your workup when diagnosing and treating heart failure and other conditions that affect your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body.
We’re happy to provide information about the process and what to expect before, during, and after a MUGA scan.
Why would I need a MUGA scan?
A MUGA scan is an imaging test that measures your heart’s ejection fraction (EF). The EF shows how much blood your heart pumps with each beat. A low EF means your heart cannot meet your body’s demands, indicating either mild, moderate, or severe heart failure.
Symptoms that may indicate heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling (edema) in the hands and feet due to poor circulation
- Chest pain
- Fatigue even with minimal activity
Your Premier Cardiology Consultants specialist may also recommend a MUGA scan to check heart function if you’ve previously had a heart attack, plan or have undergone chemotherapy, or have abnormal EKG readings.
Before the MUGA scan
During the initial evaluation, your cardiologist provides an overview of the procedure and answers any questions you might have.
You’ll receive instructions about preparing for the test, which may include limiting food and beverages for six hours before the exam. You may also need to withhold certain medications or supplements that might interfere with scan results. We generally ask that you refrain from alcohol or caffeine use for 24 hours prior since these substances can affect your heart rate.
Be sure to inform your cardiology care team if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or breastfeeding. Also, if you have any allergies, especially to iodine, ensure your specialist knows.
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing on test day. You’ll likely change into a hospital gown for the study, which can take up to three hours.
During a MUGA scan
During the study, electrodes are placed on your chest and connected to an EKG machine to monitor your heart's electrical activity. A small amount of a radioactive substance (tracer) injected via IV attaches to red blood cells.
This makes the blood flow within your heart visible to a gamma camera that takes multiple pictures of your heart from different angles. The images are taken at the same time during each heartbeat (ECG-gated). The amount of radiation from the tracer is minimal and considered safe.
A computer analyzes the images to determine how well areas of your heart muscle are contracting and calculates the EF to identify the volume of blood exiting the heart. Your cardiologist may request a resting and exercise MUGA to indicate how well your heart handles physical activity.
After the MUGA scan
After the scan, you can typically return to routine activities. The radioactive tracer will naturally leave your body through urine and stool. We do recommend drinking plenty of water to help flush the tracer from your system.
Your cardiologist will analyze the results of the MUGA scan, review the results with you, and make treatment recommendations based on the findings.
Schedule an evaluation at Premier Cardiology Consultants today for outstanding cardiovascular care that meets your needs. Call one of our New York offices or request an appointment online.