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.
A nuclear stress test uses a radioactive compound to measure blood flow to your heart muscle at rest and during stress. It enables your physician to determine if you have coronary artery disease; a condition where one or more of the coronary arteries have been narrowed or blocked by a build-up of fatty deposits; or if you already do, evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment plan. It also helps determine how efficiently your heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body.
Part 1- Resting Portion: The first part of the exam is the resting portion. You will be injected intravenously with a radioactive tracer which causes no side effects or reactions at all. After approximately 40 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. This part of the exam takes approximately 60 – 90 minutes.
Part 2- Stress Portion: For the second part of the test, the stress portion, you will have an intravenous line (IV) inserted into your arm, ECG pads placed on your chest for monitoring your heart rhythm, and a blood pressure cuff on your arm. You will walk on a treadmill at a mild to moderate pace for a minimum of 5 minutes.
If someone is unable to complete the treadmill, or unable to exercise at all, they will be injected with medication that increases the blood flow to the heart muscle simulating exercise.
After the stress portion of the test, you will lie under the scanner again for more imaging for another 20 minutes. The stress portion of the test lasts approximately 2 hours.
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.
You must fast for 4 hours prior to both parts of 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.
On the day of your test, you should wear lightweight and comfortable clothing. There are no food or medication restrictions.
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.
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.