MUGA scan is a multigated acquisition scan used to measure ejection fraction (EF), a percentage of blood your heart pumps with each heartbeat. This scan measures how your heart relaxes and contracts during exercise or when you are resting. It can also detect heart failure in the human body. During the MUGA scan, doctors inject a substance called radionuclide into the human body that travels in the blood vessels and takes a picture with a special camera to notice the blood flow. The two other names of the MUGA scan are equilibrium radionuclide angiocardiography (ERNA) and ventriculography (RNVG).
Your doctor usually recommends the MUGA scan if he notices any signs of heart failure in your body. Heart failure usually occurs when your heart cannot pump blood according to the body’s needs. Following are some common symptoms of heart failure:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling in hands and feet
The doctor can also recommend a MUGA scan before or after cancer treatment.
Your doctor will give you a series of instructions before starting the test that includes;
- Avoid eating and drinking at least six hours before the test
- Avoid caffeine on the day of the test
- Avoid wearing any jewelry that interferes with the scan
- Use loose and comfortable clothes
- Stop taking certain heart medicines such as digoxin and nitrates before the test.
- During the test, you have to lie still on the exam table, and a special camera will be placed above your chest.
- The doctor will attach electrodes with your chest to measure the heart activity.
- Then the doctor injects a small amount of radioactive called technetium-99m-pertechnetate (Tc-99m) into your veins. This chemical is associated with your red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
- Your doctor used a special camera to take pictures that indicate how and where the TC-99 m moves in your body during heartbeats.
- During taking pictures, your doctor may ask for several exercises, such as walking on a treadmill, to notice how your heart responds under stress.
The whole process of a MUGA scan takes one to three hours.
After the test
The doctor will advise the following precautionary measures after the scan to avoid any further medical complications such as;
- Avoid driving or other physical activities immediately after the test.
- Drink plenty of water so the radiotracer is easily flushed from your body within a day or two.
There isn’t any notable risk associated with the MUGA scan; it is quite a safe process to detect the heart’s functioning. The radiotracer isn’t a harmful material, and it leaves your body within a day after the test. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you must tell your doctor before the san as it can harm the unborn or newborn baby.