A MUGA scan, or multiple gated acquisition scan, is a non-invasive procedure for seeing how well the heart is functioning and detecting possible problems. It is considered a diagnostic scan because it can detect many different problems and is one of the different scans of the heart that doctors can use.
Doctors may perform a MUGA scan for many reasons. In most cases, doctors order such a scan because they suspect that a person may have a heart problem. It may be used to diagnose specific heart diseases or confirm a diagnosis.
Doctors will ask the patient to prepare for the scan by fasting for at least six hours before the procedure. Patients should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Doctors may ask women to confirm that they are not pregnant before the exam because the test can harm unborn babies. Patients with certain health problems may be asked to prepare differently. Patients taking certain medications may have to stop taking their medication in the days leading up to the MUGA scan.
During the procedure, doctors will inject a radioactive substance known as technetium 99 into the patient’s bloodstream. The substance attaches to the red blood cells and travels to the heart. The doctor will also place the patient underneath a device that can detect the radiation being emitted by the substance. When the blood cells carrying the technetium enter the heart and flows to the various parts of it, doctors get a detailed view of the heart’s interior workings. This can show them if there are any problems.
The MUGA scan is a non-invasive procedure and does not require any recovery. Some patients may experience some pain or itching at the site of the IV, but that should go away within a few days. Patients may feel tired after the scan and should rest until they feel better again.
There are usually no complications to a MUGA scan. Patients may experience some pain when the IV is placed in the arm, or may even have a reaction to the technetium. These are rare reactions. Medical problems that occur after a MUGA scan should be discussed with a doctor or medical staff. MUGA scans should not aggravate any existing problems, but patients with severe heart problems may experience stress related to the scan. Doctors may not perform the scan if they worry it may cause problems with the patient’s health. Some common complications experienced include:
MUGA scan results are usually available within a few days after the test. Doctors will give the patients a percentage, which is called the left ventricle ejection fraction. A result of 50 percent to 75 percent is considered normal. If the results show anything under 50 percent or over 75 percent, it could mean the patient has a heart problem. The results could mean a person is suffering from a heart condition such as: