Definition

Nuclear ventriculography is a test that uses radioactive materials called tracers to show the heart chambers. The procedure is noninvasive. The instruments do not directly touch the heart.

Alternative Names

Cardiac blood pooling imaging; Heart scan – nuclear; Radionuclide ventriculography (RNV); Multiple gate acquisition scan (MUGA); Nuclear cardiology

How the test is performed

The test is done while you are resting.

The health care provider will inject a radioactive material called technetium into your vein. This substance attaches to red blood cells and passes through the heart.

Special cameras or scanners trace the substance as it moves through the heart area. The red blood cells inside the heart that carry the radioactive material form an image that the camera sees. The camera is synchronized with an electrocardiogram. Using computer software, the images are made to appear as if the heart is moving.

How to prepare for the test

You may be told not to eat or drink for several hours before the test.

How the test will feel

You may feel a brief sting or pinch when the IV is inserted into your vein, usually in the arm. You may have trouble staying still during the test.

Why the test is performed

The test will show how well the blood is pumping through different parts of the heart.

Normal Values

Normal results indicate that the heart squeezing function is normal. The test can check the overall squeezing strength of the heart (ejection fraction). A normal value is above 50 – 55%.

The test also can check the motion of different parts of the heart. If one part of the heart is moving poorly while the others move well, it may mean that there has been damage to that part of the heart, possibly from a blockage in the artery that delivers blood to that area.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

  • Blockages in the coronary arteries (coronary artery disease)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Other cardiac disorders that weaken the heart
  • Past heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Poor pumping function

The test may also be performed for:

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Idiopathic cardiomyopathy
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • Senile cardiac amyloid
  • Testing whether a medicine has affected heart function

What the risks are

Nuclear imaging tests carry a very low risk of complications. Exposure to the radioisotope delivers a small amount of radiation. This amount is safe for patients who only have an occasional nuclear imaging test.

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