Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Exercise MUGA (Radionuclide Ventriculography) Scan

This scan evaluates how well the heart is contracting. Calculations are made to determine how much blood is pumped out of the heart per minute.

This test involves labeling your red blood cells (RBCs) with a radioactive tracer. To label your blood you are given two injections spaced 20 to 30 minutes apart. The first injection prepares your blood for the radioactive tracer. The second injection is a small amount of a radioactive tracer that will allow us to take pictures of the blood distribution in your body. Pictures of the heart will be taken from various angles while at rest and while exercising on a recumbent bicycle.


  • No coffee, tea, or caffeine products for 24 hours prior to the test.
  • No food or drink for two hours prior to the test.
  • No beta-blocker medications for 48 hours prior to the test unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take. This includes vitamins, herbal remedies, and holistic medications.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

The procedure takes about one and a half hours.

Blood Labeling & Patient Preparation
  • A technologist will briefly explain the test to you and try to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
  • A technologist will ask you a few questions about your medical history and medications.
  • You will receive an injection of a blood labeling drug, which has no side effects, into a vein and then must wait 20 to 30 minutes.
  • During the waiting period a technologist will ask you to undress from the waist up and will give you a hospital gown to wear.
  • A technologist will place electrode stickers on your chest that allow us to monitor your heart rate throughout the test.
  • You will receive the injection of the radioactive tracer into a vein.
Resting MUGA
  • The technologist will ask you to lie down on a bed that has a bicycle attached to it.
  • The technologist will attach some wires to the electrode stickers on your chest, and the camera will be positioned above your heart.
  • Pictures of your heart will be taken from three angles around your heart. Each takes 10 minutes and it is very important that you do not move during these pictures.
Exercise MUGA
  • The technologist will position the camera at an angle over your heart, and position your feet in the bicycle pedals.
  • You will begin to pedal the bicycle. The level of difficulty of the pedaling will increase every three minutes.
  • Pictures will be taken of your heart at each exercise stage.
  • You will continue until a specific level of exercise is reached or you get tired.