A MUGA scan is a nuclear imaging test which is designed to evaluate the function of the heart. This test may give Dr. Diego a good depiction of how well the patient’s heart is pumping blood.

MUGA, which stands for Multi-Gated Acquisition, is used to measure the function of the heart, and whether the heart valves and chambers are working efficiently. It’s also called Radionuclide Angiography or Radionuclide Ventriculography.

A MUGA scan may help Dr. Diego diagnose problems in patients who are having chest pains, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or fatigue. This scan may be used if other tests such as the echocardiogram or EKG indicate a heart problem. If the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to meet the needs of the body, it fits the definition of heart failure.

During a MUGA scan, a small amount of a radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into the bloodstream. The tracer, which attaches to red blood cells, is photographed by a special camera. This allows the doctor to visualize blood inside the working chambers (ventricles) of the heart.

At the same time, highly accurate images are created during each heart beat. These images show how well the heart muscle is contracting. The scan is called ‘multi-gated’ because the camera takes pictures several times during each heartbeat.

A MUGA test can be administered while the patient is resting and again while he or she is exercising. This allows Dr. Diego to compare the resting heart with the heart when the patient is exerting himself.

A MUGA scan measures something called an ejection fraction. This measurement is usually shown as a fraction because it indicates how much blood is being pumped during one heartbeat. An ejection fraction of 50 percent means that half of the amount of blood in the left ventricle is pumped with each heartbeat. A healthy ejection fraction could be anywhere from 50 to 75 percent.

The MUGA  test is considered non-invasive because it doesn’t involve surgery. There are no medications required for the MUGA scan, and no special dietary restrictions. Patients should wear comfortable clothing because they may be asked to don a hospital gown during the scan.