Multigated Acquisition (MUGA) Scan

A Multiplegated Acquisition (MUGA) Scan is a diagnostic procedure that is used to examine the function of the bottom chambers of your heart. It produces video images of different parts of the heart. Significantly, this test is done to check if the heart is functioning and can withstand chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

In medical terms, two of these chambers are known as ventricles. They aid in pumping blood out of the heart. A human heart has two ventricles namely the right ventricle and the left ventricle. Therefore, this imaging test looks at how well the ventricles are pumping out blood into your body.

It is a noninvasive test that uses a radioactive tracer and gamma rays to produce computerized pictures and videos. Moreover, a Multigated Acquisition (MUGA) Scan is also referred to as:

  • Equilibrium radionuclide angiogram
  • Blood pool scan
  • Radionuclide ventriculography
  • Radionuclide angiography

Why it’s done

A MUGA Scan is majorly done to check if the heart is functioning properly or not. A doctor may prescribe you this test under the following three conditions.

To investigate symptoms

Patients experiencing the following symptoms for a long time are often asked to go for this test.

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Severe dizziness
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Hypertension

To diagnose diseases

If you have a family history of premature heart disease, you may be advised by your medical team to go for regular scans in order to catch the disease timely. Moreover, the following complications can be diagnosed using a MUGA scan.

  • Extent and severity of heart attack after an ECG (Electrocardiogram) or others.
  • Clogged arteries or blood vessels that have blocked blood flow to the heart
  • A weak muscle area of the heart
  • Damage to the heart due to chemotherapy
  • Enlargement of a chamber of the heart

To monitor the functioning of the heart

If you are on chemotherapy or have heart disease, your doctor may recommend this scan to keep a check on your heart health and look for abnormalities. This is done to check if the medicines you are administering are rightly influencing your body or not.

How it’s done

A MUGA Scan requires not many preparations before the procedure. It may take about 2 to 3 hours to complete. Further, the timespan depends upon the number of photos to be taken.

Before the procedure

  • Tell your healthcare team about the medications you administer regularly including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbs, and supplements.
  • Except for water, avoid the consumption of every food item or beverage (especially, caffeine-containing drinks) for about 4 to 6 hours before the scan.
  • Wear comfy and loose clothes.
  • Be sure to tell your healthcare team if you are pregnant or breastfeeding since the test may harm the baby.
  • Remove your jewelry or other objects that could interfere with the test.

During the procedure

  • Your doctor, first of all, measures your heart rate by placing electrodes (small, circular objects) on your chest that are connected to an ECG (electrocardiograph).
  • A small amount of tracer (radioactive material) will be administered through your vein to get clearer pictures.
  • Further, you will be asked by the technologist to remove your clothes from the waist up and lie down on a table.
  • A special camera will be placed above your chest that makes use of gamma rays for tracking the radioactive material (radionuclide) in the body.
  • The gamma camera mainly works by capturing different pictures of the heart from variant angles so that the heart can be examined properly.
  • A MUGA Scan can be majorly done in two ways- resting test and exercise test. During a resting test, the images will be taken while you lie on the table whereas, during an exercise test, you will need a cycling machine until your heart rate reaches the highest.
  • Finally, the pictures will be reviewed by the healthcare team.

After the procedure

  • Once the images are produced, your doctor will ask you to stay in the hospital or medical room till the images are viewed.
  • If the pictures are blurred or not valid for examination, you may require another round of the test.
  • You can get back to your routine right after the scan.
  • Furthermore, drink more fluids and urinate often so that the tracer gets easily removed from your body.

Preparation of Results

Once the procedure is completed and the images are produced, they are viewed by the healthcare provider on a monitor. To end complexities, an activity curve is obtained. This curve mainly consists of the following factors:

  • ES Frame
  • Enhanced ED Frame
  • Amplitude
  • Ejection Fraction
  • LV Counts
  • Regional Ejection Rate

Based on these, the probability of diseases is calculated. Moreover, the report of MUGA Scan comprises:

  • Aneurysm size (per cm)
  • History of cardiac disease
  • LVEF (left ventricular ejection fraction)
  • Wall motion abnormalities


The result is demonstrated in the form of a percentage. In medical terms, this percentage is known as LVEF (left ventricular ejection fraction).

A percentage between 50 to 75 is considered normal. Such an outcome does not require any further tests or treatment. This implies that your heart is functioning well and pumping the right amount of blood. However, any percentage below 50 and 75 is considered abnormal.

Less than 40 percent means

  • Left ventricular systolic dysfunction (a complication associated with a heart attack)
  • Coronary artery disease (damage in the heart’s blood vessels)
  • Mild to severe heart failure

40–55 percent means

  • Heart muscle damage
  • Myocardial infarction (a condition in which blood flow decreases of stops in the heart)
  • Damage from chemotherapy drugs

More than 75 percent means

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (abnormal thickness of the heart muscles)


Besides these, other possible complications that can show abnormal LVEF are as follows:

  • Artery blockage (buildup of fatty material in the arteries)
  • Heart valve condition (one of the valves doesn’t work well)
  • Ventricles not pumping at the same time
  • Heart’s pumping mechanism disorder


NOTE: This article is for informative purposes only. Consult your doctor if you experience any complications after the test.