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Nuclear Ventriculography

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. In other words, the red blood cells inside the heart that carry the radioactive material form an image that the camera sees. The images may be combined 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 beverages 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 55%.

The test also can check the motion of individual parts of the heart. If one part of the heart is moving poorly while the others move well, it may mean that there is a blockage in the artery of the heart that delivers blood to the damaged part.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may indicate:

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

Other conditions under which the test may be performed:

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Idiopathic cardiomyopathy
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • Senile cardiac amyloid

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.

Review Date: 5/22/2010

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.