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MUGA Scan: About This Test

What is it?

A MUGA ( mu lti g ated a cquisition) scan is a scan of your heart and blood flow. This type of scan shows how well your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body.

During this test, a small amount of a radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into one of your veins. A camera detects the tracer as it flows through your heart.

The camera takes a series of pictures of your heart. Each picture is taken at a specific time of the heartbeat. The pictures are strung together so that they look like a video of your heart's motion and the blood moving through it.

Why is this test done?

A MUGA scan is done to check:

  • The size of the chambers of your heart.
  • How well your heart muscle pumps blood to the rest of the body.

How can you prepare for the test?

  • Talk to your doctor about all of your medicines and health conditions before the scan. For example, tell your doctor if:
    • You are allergic to any medicines.
    • You are or might be pregnant.
    • You recently had a test that uses a radioactive tracer, such as a bone scan or thyroid scan.
    • You have a pacemaker or other metal device in your chest. These may make it hard for the camera to take clear pictures.
  • If your test will include exercise:
    • wear comfortable shoes and clothing
    • you may be asked not to eat or drink for a few hours before the test
    • do not have any caffeine or smoke for 4 to 6 hours before the test

What happens before the test?

  • You will need to remove any jewellery that might interfere with the scan.
  • You may need to take off all or most of your clothes.
  • You may be given a cloth or paper gown to wear during the test.

What happens during the test?

  • A MUGA scan can be done either at rest or with exercise.
  • You will lie on an examination table below the camera. Small pads or patches (electrodes) will be attached to your chest.
  • The injection site on your arm will be cleaned. A needle will be put into a vein and a blood sample will be taken. Then the tracer will be added to the blood, which is put back into your vein. You may feel a quick sting or pinch when the needle is put into your arm.
  • The camera will be positioned close to your body. It may be positioned in different places across your chest to get different views of your heart.
  • The camera will take pictures as the tracer moves through your bloodstream and into your heart. It is important not to move during the scan. The camera doesn't produce any radiation, so you aren't exposed to any more radiation while the scan is being done.
  • You may be asked to:
    • Change position for each different view.
    • Do some exercise between scans to see how well your heart functions after the stress of exercise.

How long does the test take?

  • The test may take about 1 to 2 hours.

What happens after the test?

  • After your scan, you will probably be able to leave the testing room right away.
  • You may have to wait at the test centre until all of your scan pictures have been reviewed. If you moved during the scan and the pictures turned out blurry, the scan may have to be done again.
  • Drink lots of water and urinate often after your scan. This helps your body flush out the tracer. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Anytime you're exposed to radiation, there's a small chance of damage to cells or tissue. That's the case even with the low-level radioactive tracer used for this test. But the chance of damage is very low compared with the benefits of the test.
  • Most of the tracer will leave your body through your urine or stool within a day. So be sure to flush the toilet right after you use it, and wash your hands well with soap and water. The amount of radiation in the tracer is very small. This means it isn't a risk for people to be around you after the test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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