Nuclear Ventriculography

Nuclear Ventriculography: imaging technique for the Heart Chambers

Nuclear ventriculography is an imaging technique that is primarily used to scan the chambers of the heart. It is often done to measure the heart’s ejection fraction and identify any abnormalities of the blood pumping function. This test is also known as MUGA (multiple–gated acquisition) scan or radionuclide ventriculography. 

How is Nuclear ventriculography performed?

The patient is asked to remove his clothing from the waist up and wear the hospital gown. Small sticky metal discs called electrodes are then attached to his chest. These are connected to the electrocardiograph machine by the leads. Through this machine, the doctor monitors the patient’s ECG to track his heartbeat during the test.

MUGA Scan - Healthy Heart Institute

An IV (intravenous) line is then started on his arm, and the radionuclide tracer is injected via this. Technetium is commonly used as the radioactive tracer in this test. It “tags” or “labels” the red blood cells and can be detected via a particular camera. The “tagged” red blood cells circulate in the body and show how well blood flows through the heart. (Image credit)

After this, the patient lies down on the examination table, and a gamma-ray camera is placed over his chest. It captures pictures of the patient’s heart while resting, thus called the “resting” scan. Sometimes, the doctor may order an “exercise” scan in addition to the resting scan. For this, the patient will be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal an exercise bike. On reaching the peak activity level, the technician stops him and instructs him to lie on the examination table.

The gamma-ray camera then hovers over him to take pictures of his heart. The patient will be moved to a different examination table and pedal a specifically mounted bicycle in some cases. This allows the technician to capture several images of the heart while the patient is exercising. 

Are there any risks involved in it?

It is a relatively safe test as minimal amounts of radionuclide is only used. The harmless radioisotope will generally leave the patient’s body within 2 to 3 days. This test is, however, contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women as it may harm the baby. 

FAQs: Nuclear ventriculography

What are preparations required from the patient? The patient must fast for 4 to 6 hours before the test. He should also avoid smoking and taking caffeinated drinks for 24 hours before the test. It is generally advised to wear comfortable clothing and shoes for the test. 

How long does it take? It takes about 1 to 2 hours to get the test done.

Who performs it? This test is performed by a nuclear medicine technologist.

How much does it cost? It costs over Rs. 5K to 7K to get a MUGA scan done in India.

When can I go home after the procedure? The patient can go home and resume his normal activities immediately after the test.


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