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MUGA stands for multiple-gated acquisition. A MUGA scan shows a moving image of your heartbeat.
For young people with cancer, the most common reason for having a MUGA scan is to check that your heart is working normally before you have chemotherapy|. It can also be used as a way of checking for any side effects of treatment by comparing scans done before and after treatment. An alternative test is an echocardiogram|.
You can eat and drink normally before a MUGA scan. It’s usually done in the outpatient clinic and takes about an hour in total. There are three main parts to the test:
If you don’t already have a central line (a Hickman® or Groshong®), then you’ll have a needle put into one of the veins in the back of your hand. A small amount of blood is taken from you and mixed with a radioactive substance. About 30 minutes later this is re-injected into your vein. You then lie on a couch and have the ECG and MUGA scan.
You need to undress to the waist and put on a gown that opens at the front. The nurse will then stick about 12 discs onto your chest area. They’ll feel cold when they’re put on. Some wires are then connected to the discs. The wires are linked to a machine that records your heart’s electrical activity.
You lie still on the couch while a special camera (called a gamma camera) takes pictures of your chest area from different angles.
You can go home straight afterwards and there are no side effects. The results should be ready a few days later.
Content last reviewed: 1 November 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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