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Nuclear Imaging

Yakima Heart Center has been performing Nuclear Cardiology Imaging since 2002 and was awarded accreditation in 2008 by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), a national commission that ensures that labs perform high-quality exams.

The department is headed by Erik Monick, M.D., F.A.C.C., the nuclear medical director, and Lisa Ryals, B.S., CNMT, the lead nuclear technologist. Experienced cardiac nurses and treadmill technicians facilitate the stress portion of the test with utmost attention to patient safety, care, and comfort.


Occasionally your physician may want an accurate assessment of your heart function at rest only and not with stress. This test, known as a Multi-Gated Acquisition (MUGA) scan or radionuclide angiogram (RNA), involves an injection of a small amount of imaging agent followed by a series of scans. The test is done primarily to determine the heart’s “ejection fraction,” which is a measure of the percentage of the heart’s pumping volume compared with its total volume of blood.

There is no prep required for this test.


Intersocietal Accreditation Commission Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear Cardiology Imaging

More About Nuclear Imaging

Why has my doctor ordered a nuclear medicine cardiac (heart) stress test?

A nuclear medicine cardiac (heart) stress-rest test lets doctors see pictures of your heart at rest and shortly after exercising.
It gives important information about how well the heart muscle is getting blood and how well it is pumping blood.

Your doctor may have ordered this test to find out:

  • If there is adequate blood flow to your heart
  • How well your heart responds to stress (exercise)
  • The amount of damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack
  • The cause of chest pains (angina) and/or shortness of breath
  • The health of your heart’s arteries (blood vessels)
  • How well treatments are working to improve blood flow to the heart
What should I expect during the test?

The test takes approximately 3-4 hours.
First, an IV is started and you will be injected with a radioactive tracer in which allows us to take pictures of the blood flow to your heart. There are no side effects or reactions from this injection.

After the tracer has circulated for approximately 20 minutes, you will lie on a table and a scanner will rotate around your chest for 20 minutes acquiring images.  Although it is not entirely enclosed, the scanner does pass very closely to your chest, so please inform the scheduler if you are claustrophobic.  

Next, you will be set up for a stress test; either a treadmill or if you are unable to exercise, a pharmacological (chemical) stress where you are injected with medicine that increases the blood flow to the heart muscle simulating exercise.

During this portion, your heart rhythm and blood pressure will be monitored by a physician’s assistant or a cardiac RN. There will always be a doctor available during this portion.

After the stress portion is complete, you will lie under the scanner again for another 15 minutes.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A specially trained cardiologist will interpret your test and the results will be sent to your referring physician within one week.  Your doctor will then share the results with you. 

How do I prepare for the test?

You cannot consume caffeine, chocolate, or even decaf for 24  hours prior to the test and you must fast for 4 hours prior to the test.  Wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable walking shoes.  Sandals and heels are not allowed on the treadmill for safety reasons.  It is advisable to bathe before the test and do not apply lotions or creams to your chest area. You will be given instructions about your medications when the scheduler contacts you.

Is there anything I need to do after the test?

The radioactive tracer usually does not stay in your body for very long. Unless there is some reason that you should not drink a lot of fluid, it is advisable to drink plenty of liquids and urinate frequently after the test is complete. This will help flush any remaining radioactivity out of your body. Usually, you can resume most normal activities, including your normal medication schedule, immediately.

How do I prepare a MUGA scan?

On the day of your test, you should wear lightweight and comfortable clothing. There are no food or medication restrictions.

What should I expect during a MUGA scan?

When you arrive for the MUGA scan, a technologist will withdraw blood from your arm and attach it to a small amount of radioactive tracer.  After approximately 20 minutes, you will lie under a scanner and your blood will be re-injected. Imaging will begin immediately and will take approximately 60 minutes.  Please allow 90 minutes for the entire test.

What happens after the test and how do I get the results?

After the procedure you may leave without restrictions. There are no after-effects from the procedure and no risks or complications associated with a MUGA scan. A cardiologist and a radiologist will interpret the scan and report their findings to your primary care doctor.

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Yakima, WA 98902
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Fax: 509.453.4319
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