Posts Tagged ‘heart’

MUGA Tests Demystified

Written by on August 13th, 2013 – 4 Comments

In 2009, I underwent chemo to try and beat down my immune system so I might get into remission. I had four doses of mitoxantrone, which is the chemo they use to treat MS. (Which we now know I actually don’t have. I have neuromyelitis optica (NMO) which I’ve explained here. )

Mitoxantrone is a pretty heavy duty. There’s a lifetime cap of 12 treatments because it has the potential to damage the heart muscle, even long after treatment has stopped. MS specialists will use chemo as a last resort when other treatment options have failed. If your doctor recommends chemo to treat MS, it’s because they believe the benefits (the potential to get MS into remission) outweigh the risks.

Each year since I had chemo, I have had a MUGA scan. (Muga stands for “multigated acquisition”.)  The scan creates video images of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart that hold blood) to check whether they are pumping blood properly. It shows any abnormalities in the size of the ventricles and in the movement of the blood through the heart.

When I arrive at the hospital, I go to nuclear medicine to check in. Once they are ready for me, they call me into an exam area where I sit on a bed while one of the techs, dressed in a very Game of Thrones lead tunic draws some blood. They label my blood and send it off to the lab for about half and hour where they spin my blood with some isotopes. Isotopes are a radioactive particle that when spun with blood, sticks to the red blood cells.