Nuclear Medicine - MUGA

What is a MUGA?

A MUGA is a procedure in which the patient’s red blood cells are radiolabeled and electrocardiograph-gated cardiac scintigraphy is obtained.

Data are collected from several hundred cardiac cycles to generate an image set of the beating heart that is presented as a single, composite cardiac cycle.  The method can be used to assess (a) regional and global wall motion; (b) cardiac chamber size and morphology; and (c) ventricular systolic and diastolic function, including left and right ventricular ejection fractions.


Common clinical settings in which MUGA may be useful include:

  • Known or suspected coronary artery disease (CAD)
    • CAD without myocardial infarction (MI) 
    • Remote MI 
    • Acute MI (however, these patients usually should not undergo exercise stress in the first 48 hours after acute MI)
  • To help distinguish systolic from diastolic causes of congestive heart failure (CHF) in patients with known or suspected CHF 
  • Evaluation of cardiac functions in patients undergoing chemotherapy 
  • Assessment of ventricular function in patients with valvular heart disease

A MUGA may be used in the conditions listed above for (a) determining long-term prognosis; (b) assessing short-term risk (e.g. preoperative evaluation), and (c) monitoring response to surgery or other therapeutic interventions.

What preparations do I need to take?

No special preparation is required for a resting MUGA.  A fasting state is generally preferred.  It is not necessary to withhold any medications.  The electrodes used for MUGA must be placed securely on the skin to ensure an optimal ECG signal.  You will be in the department for 45-60 minutes.  Nuclear Medicine staff technologists will withdraw 3 cc of blood by starting a hep-loc to tag with an isotope.  It will take 15-20 minutes for your blood to tag with the isotope.  At that point your blood will be reinjected and 3 patches for an EKG will be applied to your chest.  Images of the Anterior, LAO and Left Lateral views of the heart will be taken.