Ventricular Function Test

What This Test is Designed To Do:

This test is primarily designed to study how well the heart is pumping, how much blood it pumps per beat, etc. The test can also:

  • Visualize the integrity of the cardiac chambers and valves
  • Monitor the effect of different drugs on the heart muscle (such as chemotherapy drugs)

There are two types of tests, though the first is far more common than the second:

  • MUGA (Multi-Gated Acquisition) study (also known as Equilibrium Gated Blood Pool Study)
  • Angiography First Pass Study

What to Expect:

In a MUGA test, you are first given an injection of a “tagging agent,” pyrophosphate, that highlights your red blood cells. After 30 minutes, you’ll be injected with the radioactive tracer. It emits signals that can be detected by the specialized camera (gamma camera).

The camera will take several images, usually three. This process takes about 45 minutes.

The Angiography First Pass Study is very similar, and uses the same agent and tracer. The difference is you are given the tracer when you are under the camera, so the action of your right ventricle can be studied. (The left and right ventricles are the lower heart chambers.) Usually, after the images for the Angiography First Pass Study are taken, additional images for a MUGA study are taken.

There are usually no side effects with either of these tests. But you should always tell the people giving you the test how you feel, so they can take any action needed.

Patient Preparation:

No special preparation is needed, but it’s always best to tell the doctor, technologist, or nurse doing the test, if you have a history of allergies, are taking any medications (including over-the-counter medications or “natural” supplements), are diabetic, are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant, are breast feeding your baby, or have any prosthetic implants in your body.

NOTE: The radiation levels administered in most nuclear medicine studies are usually considerably lower than in a conventional x-ray or CT scan. Patients retain this low level radioactivity for relatively short periods. It dissipates on its own, and some is eliminated through urine or bowel movement.

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