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Multiple-Gated Acquisition (MUGA) Scan

Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers state-of-the-art multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scanning to determine if the heart is pumping blood properly and identify functional and nonfunctional heart tissue. 

This advanced type of cardiovascular imaging is one of the most accurate methods of assessing heart function, particularly in challenging situations when more traditional tests have been unable to provide the necessary information. 

Advanced Imaging to Evaluate Heart Function

A MUGA scan is a sophisticated cardiovascular imaging study in which radio-labeled red blood cells are injected into the bloodstream to evaluate how well the heart is pumping. 

The injected blood cells emit radioactive energy that is detected by a special camera that creates an outline of the heart chambers and eventually a movie of the beating heart. 

The heart doctors at UT Southwestern use MUGA scanning for a highly accurate measurement of heart function, especially when other tests have proven inadequate. Many situations require such an exact assessment, when even mild changes in the heart function necessitate a change in the patient’s individualized treatment plan. 

Conditions We Diagnose with a MUGA Scan

MUGA scans are most often used to evaluate patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or who have pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), congestive heart failure, or cardiomyopathy (weakened heart pumping function). They are also used when the patient’s heart is not adequately visualized or assessed with more traditional imaging tests.  

What to Expect

Before a MUGA Scan

Prior to the MUGA scan, the physician will give specific instructions to the patient and discuss issues such as pre-scan medication use and allergies. 

MUGA Scan Details

A technician will take the patient to a special room where red blood cells labeled with radioactive technetium sestamibi will be injected intravenously. After the patient has rested quietly for 30 minutes while the injected cells accumulate in the body tissue, the scan begins. 

The gamma camera is pointed at the heart, gathering low-level radiation emissions and creating an outline image of blood flow through the heart. The imaging portion generally takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete while the patient lies comfortably flat on a table. 

Post-MUGA Scan Details

Patients are done once the MUGA scan is complete. There are usually no restrictions to daily activities. Patients should drink plenty of fluids to wash out the radioactive substance. It generally takes a few days for the scan results to be interpreted.

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.

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