MUGA Scan (Gated Blood Pool Scan)

WHAT IS IT?

A MUGA scan is a test using a radioisotope that shows how blood pools in your heart during rest.  This test calculates your “ejection fraction,” which is the percentage of blood that is pumped out of your heart’s lower chamber (called the left ventricle) with each heartbeat.  This test is also called a Gated Blood Pool scan.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Gated blood pool scanning makes use of a radioactive substance that is injected into your bloodstream.  The radioactive substance “tags” or “labels” the red blood cells in your blood.  Technologists will then use a gamma camera to take pictures of your heart as the “tagged” red blood cells circulate.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

The day of your appointment, you can eat and drink as usual and take all of your usual medications.

Once you arrive for the appointment, an IV will be started.  A technologist will draw a sample of blood from this IV site.  This blood sample will be placed in a vial and mixed with a nuclear isoptope.  After about 20 minutes, the sample will be re-injected into the same IV site.  The IV will be removed, electrodes will be placed on your chest, and you will be positioned on your back on a gamma camera for images.  Next, the technologist will take a number of images of your heart with the gamma camera.  The images will take about 20 to 30 minutes.  The entire appointment will last about 1-1 ½ hours.

After the test, you may resume your normal activities.  The radioactive substance will leave the body within 2 days.  This isotope does not affect kidney function and does not interact with any medications.  In general, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not have a gated blood pool scan.