What is a multiple gated acquisition (MUGA) scan?
A multiple gated acquisition (MUGA) scan is a nuclear test that determines how the heart walls move and how much blood is expelled with each heartbeat.
There are two types of multiple gated acquisition scans: a resting multiple gated acquisition scan and a stress multiple gated acquisition scan. Your physician will determine which test is appropriate for you.
Resting multiple gated acquisition scan: This test checks how well the main heart chamber (the left ventricle) pumps blood through your body at rest. It also determines how your heart muscle wall moves, as well as the size and shape of your heart.
Once the test begins, a technician will place an IV in your arm. Blood is taken out through the IV and sent through a machine to tag your blood cells with radioactive material. The tagged blood is then given back to you through the IV.
After this is complete, ECG/EKG leads are placed on your chest to evaluate your heart rate and rhythm. Pictures of your heart will be taken as the tagged blood circulates through the heart. The test should take about an hour, and once it is complete, a technician will take off the ECG/EKG leads and remove the IV from your arm.
Stress multiple gated acquisition scan: This test evaluates how your heart works and how much blood it pumps, both at rest and when you exercise. It also determines how your heart muscle wall moves, as well as the size and shape of your heart.
As with the resting multiple gated acquisition, during the stress multiple gated acquisition scan a technician places an IV in your arm. Blood is taken out of your arm, tagged with radioactive material and given back to you via an IV. ECG/EKG leads are put on your chest so your heart rate and rhythm can continually be checked.
Three pictures of your heart will be taken before you exercise. Once this is complete, you will be asked to exercise by pedaling a stationary bike-type machine while lying down. The tension on the bike will increase every two to three minutes.
Pictures will be taken of your heart again once you have reached your exercise limit. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked often during your workout. Please plan on one to two hours for this test.
What to expect during a multiple gated acquisition (MUGA) scan
Preparing for your procedure
In general, there are no preparations necessary for either multiple gated acquisition scan, but always double-check with your physician when scheduling the test. If you are pregnant, nursing or suspect you could be pregnant, please notify the technician before the test begins.
During your procedure
If you have chest pain, severe shortness of breath, leg cramps or feel dizzy during either the stress multiple gated acquisition scan or the resting multiple gated acquisition scan, please notify the technician immediately.
After your procedure
Both types of multiple gated acquisition scans will leave a very small amount of radioactivity in your blood. Ask your physician if you are going to be around pregnant women or infants in the few days following your test — they might have special instructions for you.
Once the test is complete, you are free to go. Your physician will be in touch to discuss your test results.