MUGA scan: here's what it was like (a pre-"Doxil" heart strength test)

lindaprocopio Member Posts: 1,980
I just had my 1st ever MUGA scan and it was so different than what I expected that I thought I'd share what it was like just in case any of you ever have to get one. If you are to take a chemo known to be hard on your heart (like Doxil), you will probably have to have a baseline MUGA scan done, and then regular MUGA scans every few months while you are getting that chemo, just to make sure it isn't weakening your heart.

Anyway, I wore my regular clothes and stayed in them, although I was wishing I'd worn a button-down top so that it would have been easier to access my port. But no one told me they'd be doing that beforehand. Anyway the "" machine for the MUGA scan looks similar to a CT or PET scan table; you lay down on it for the scan. First they accessed and flushed my port with heparin, then drew out a vial of blood. They mixed my blood with some kind of radioactive material, and then re-injected that radioactive blood back into me using my port after a 25 minute wait. The scan itself took 15 minutes. They taped on 3 of those EKG buttons onto my chest and lower ribcage. They I went into the scanner feet first, on my back with my head on a pillow and my arms folded over my head. I was told to breathe normally and not wiggle around. They let my husband stay in the room with me. The part of the machine that goes over you (the 'camera') looked like two 24" x 28-30" hinged rectangular panels. These panels move slowly over you twice, so close over my chest that I thought it might actually bump my nose and it did bump my elbow a little with each pass. It whirs a lot and covers about half your face down to about the end of your rib cage, and if you're at all claustrophobic, it is CLOSE to you. (I kept my eyes shut for most of it). My husband could watch a monitor and see very colorful changing photos of my beating heart on the screen, and see my pulse counts (which stayed a steady 65/66 throughout), but my view of the monitor was always blocked by the camera. After the 2 passes of the camera panels moving around me to photograph the heart from all sides (15 minutes), it was over and they unhooked my port access and flushed my port and I could go home. They said they would give me a nuclear medicine card to carry if I was flying anywhere in the next 3 days because the radioactive stuff would set off the airport scanner for 3 days.

Amyway, if I decide to pass on the Clinical Trial, I am ready to start Doxil. But I heard from my radiation oncologist on the Clinical Trial, who said the radiation can wait if I want to do the Trial. And my chemo oncologist emailed that he always encourages people to do Clinical Trials if the time seems right and he knows of no published or whispered problems with the drug. So I am just waiting for my Gyne-Onc to chime in with his opinion. But I'm really leaning towards doing the Clinical Trial and saving Doxil and radiation for a later time if I need them.


  • pjba11
    pjba11 Member Posts: 188
    good to know for future references
    You have been through so much. Thank you again for thinking of us with your bountiful and priceless infomation. I know you are making the decision of your lifetime... again. I am starting a prayer chain for you. (If any of you sisters would like to join please do!) Love Peggy
  • nempark
    nempark Member Posts: 681
    Always thinking of us. Go for it Linda, GO MY LOVE!!!! My God give you the strength and endurance to carry on and to make wise decisions. My love to you and your family. June