At Brookhaven Heart, our medical specialists use multiple tools and techniques to diagnose cardiovascular conditions. One of those tools, a multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan, provides images of your heart that help our doctors see how effectively your heart performs.
Running the Test
A MUGA test is a minimally invasive procedure. To start the test, a nuclear medicine technologist will use an IV line to inject a special dye into your vein. Over the next 15 to 30 minutes, our specialists will take images of your heart using a nuclear camera that can detect the dye as it flows through your body. The entire scan usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes.
The Purpose of MUGA Scans
A MUGA scan provides physicians with a moving image of your beating heart, which allows them to:
- Determine which portion of your heart muscle has sustained damage after a heart attack or heart disease diagnosis.
- Determine the degree of damage sustained.
- Measures the left ventricle ejection fraction (LVEF), a primary indicator for your heart’s overall functionality.
Doctors often choose MUGA scans over traditional echocardiograms or other tests because they produce highly accurate LVEF measures. Additionally, because they are minimally invasive, MUGA scans help doctors measure a patient’s cardiac function over a long period of time.
Prepare for Your Test
MUGA scans rarely require much preparation. Unless otherwise instructed by your physician, you can eat, drink and take your medications as usual. On the day of the exam, wear comfortable clothes and do not put any creams or lotions on your chest. Tell your doctors if you are pregnant or nursing, as they might prefer to use another test.
MUGA Scan vs. Echo
When determining the difference between an echocardiogram (or echo) and a Multigated Acquisition Scan (MUGA), it’s important to take note of the key components of each type of heart scan – both employ different methods for measuring heart strength, per the patient’s specific needs.
A MUGA scan is a heart test that involves radioactive material being inserted into your veins.
An echo, on the other hand, uses ultrasound technology to take pictures of your heart to measure its strength. Using these pictures, your doctor can also tell if there are any problems with your heart structure, such as fluid buildup or blocked valves.
MUGA Scan Risks
A MUGA scan is a type of heart test that measures the size and strength of the left ventricle; it can also help doctors assess which parts of your heart, if any, have sustained damages after a heart attack. There are many benefits associated with this procedure – namely, that it tends to be one of the most accurate methods for measuring LVEF.
As with any medical test, it’s always important to weigh the benefits alongside the risks. The risks of a MUGA scan include being exposed to small doses of radiation – however, this is typically no different than undergoing an X-ray or other common radiation-based procedure. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
To learn more about a MUGA scan, or to get more information about our team at Brookhaven Heart, please contact us at 631-654-3278 for our Patchogue office or (631) 654-3278 for our New Hyde Park location.
- What are the risks and benefits of having a MUGA scan?
The risks associated with having a MUGA scan include exposure to medically approved radiation. The is not a frequently ordered test and so the excess risk of cancer is minuscule. The benefits of having a MUGA scan are that this test most accurately assesses the strength of the left lower chamber, the main pump of the heart. This information is important to assess one’s prognosis and treatment response.
- Will I need to repeat this test during my treatment?
Yes, in the setting of heart failure, once appropriate therapy is given, the MUGA scan is done to assess or reassess the strength of the left lower chamber which is the pump of the heart. If it is used to assess left lower chamber strength with the use of cardiotoxic chemotherapy, it may be repeated from time to time. Your oncologist and cardiologist will guide you with that.
- Who will perform the MUGA scan?
This test is carried out by our certified nuclear technologist and read by your nuclear board certified cardiologist.
- If my results are abnormal, what is the next step?
If abnormal, your cardiologist may recommend further testing or therapy as appropriate.
- How Long Does a MUGA Scan Take?
A MUGA Scan, or Gated Blood Pool Scan, is one of the most widely used diagnostic procedures performed to evaluate the function of a heart’s ventricles. The scan usually consists of a small dose of radioactive substance and captured images of your beating heart in order to identify any inconsistencies or abnormalities in blood pumping.The procedure itself involves two intravenous injections that allow your heart specialist to tag red blood cells with a radiotracer. The tagging takes approximately twenty minutes to complete and will allow the camera to examine the blood flow to the ventricle of your heart. Then, three EKG leads are placed on the chest. Our camera will capture between one and three images of the heart at different angles. Each picture will take approximately ten minutes. In total, the MUGA scan requires around one hour to complete.