The MUGA scan is an imaging test that produces computer-generated images of your heart. It provides data on how well your heart is pumping and helps First Coast Heart & Vascular Center physicians detect damage or irregularities in your heart. It’s often used with cancer patients who may receive cardiotoxic chemotherapy. The what is muga scan lets our doctors monitor your heart function before, during, and after chemotherapy treatments to make sure they are safe for you.
To perform this test, a small amount of radionuclide is injected into your body. This is done through two injections: the first contains a chemical that adheres to red blood cells and the second contains a radioactive tracer (technetium-99m pertechnetate, or Tc-99m). Once it attaches to the blood cell, the tracer emits radiation that your gamma camera can pick up and record. These images are then analyzed and converted to data that our physicians can read. The entire test takes about 1 hour. No special preparation is necessary.
In general, you should not eat or drink anything except water for 4 to 6 hours before the test and should also avoid caffeine and tobacco products 24 hours beforehand. You should also remove any jewelry or piercings before coming in. Your provider will give you personalized instructions regarding how to prepare for your MUGA scan. Make sure you know whether you should take any heart medications before your MUGA scan, such as nitrates (nitroglycerin) or digoxin, as they can interfere with the results of this test.
During your MUGA scan, you will lie on a table and a gamma camera will be placed above your chest. A technologist will then inject the radiotracer into a vein in your arm or hand. The tracer will move through your bloodstream and into your heart, where it will bind to the red blood cells that carry oxygen. The gamma camera will then take pictures of your heart from several different angles. Your provider will ask you to exercise during the test or take nitroglycerin tablets to open your blood vessels and help with stress testing.
When you have a MUGA scan, one of our cardiologists will analyze the results to check for any abnormalities in your heart. Our physicians can then use this information to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
MUGA scans can be performed along with other tests, such as an echocardiogram or an MRI, to get additional information on your heart health. To learn more about the MUGA scan and how it can benefit you, contact us to schedule an appointment with our team. We look forward to seeing you soon!