MUGA scan

A MUGA (“Multiple-Gated Acquisition”) Scan is a type of nuclear imaging test that shows how well your heart is pumping. It is also referred to as a Radionuclide Ventriculography (RVG, RNV) or radionuclide angiography (RNA).

The test using a radioactive tracer (called a radionuclide) and a special camera to take pictures of your heart as it pumps blood. The test measures how well your heart pumps with every heartbeat.

The test is called “multi-gated” because a gamma camera takes pictures at specific times during each heartbeat.

The test may be done while you stay still (“Resting”), exercise (“Stress”) or both.

The test measures your Ejection Fraction (“EF”), which is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during each heartbeat (contraction). It’s usually expressed as a percentage (%). For example, an ejection fraction (EF) of 60% means that 60 percent of the total amount of blood in the left ventricle, when it is full, is pumped out with each heartbeat. A normal ejection fraction is between 50 and 75 percent.

The staff at San Tan Cardiovascular Center uses a state of the art Gamma camera to obtain the best images to diagnose conditions accurately.

Why do people have a MUGA Scan?

Your doctor may want to check how well your heart pumps blood. A MUGA scan helps your doctor learn more about why you may be having:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness

Your doctor may use this scan if other tests (like an ECG or EKG) showed you may have a heart problem. It will show your doctor how much blood the heart pumps with each beat. Your heart may not be pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs. This is a condition called heart failure (HF).

MUGA Scan at San Tan Cardiovascular Center

During the scan, the technician places small metal disks (electrodes) on your chest, arms and legs. The disks have wires that hook to an electrocardiograph machine to record your ECG. The ECG tracks your heartbeat during the test. 

An intravenous line (IV) is put into a vein in your arm. A small amount of a radioactive substance or tracer (called a radionuclide) is put into your blood. This tracer attaches to your red blood cells.

During the MUGA scan, these tests are often done while you’re resting and/or exercising. 

 For a “resting” scan, you will lie on a table while a special gamma camera takes many pictures of your heart while you’re resting. 

For an “exercise” scan, will generally walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle until you reach your peak activity level. Then, you’ll stop and again lie on a table while the gamma camera takes pictures of your heart.

The special gamma camera produces pictures lets doctors see the blood inside your heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles). A computer will analyze these pictures. The pictures show if areas of your heart muscle aren’t contracting normally and show how well your heart pumps blood.

The MUGA test take between 1 and 2 hours.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the test will be scheduled.


Q: How do I prepare for my test?

A:  For a “resting” scan, your doctor may ask you to avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine such as coffee, tea or soft drinks for several hours before the test.

For an “exercise” scan, don’t eat or drink anything except water for 4 hours before your test. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes. 

Your doctor will explain any changes in your medicine that you may need to make to prepare for the scan.

Q: What are the risks for a MUGA Scan?

A:  The radioactive substance you receive is safe for most people. Your body will get rid of it through your kidneys within about 24 hours.

If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant, or if you’re a nursing mother, don’t have this test. It could harm your baby.

Q: What happens after my MUGA Scan?

  • You can usually go back to your normal activities right away.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush the radioactive material from your body.
  • Your doctor will discuss the test results during your next visit. Please make sure you have a follow-up appointment scheduled.