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Radionuclide Ventriculogram



  • A radionuclide ventriculogram is a procedure that uses a radioactive chemical injected into your child’s vein to show how well the heart is pumping. It is used to diagnose heart problems or lung problems that affect the heart.
  • Ask your provider how long it will take to recover and how to take care of your child at home.
  • Make sure you know what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.


What is a radionuclide ventriculogram?

A radionuclide ventriculogram (RVG) uses a radioactive chemical injected into your child’s vein to show how well the heart is pumping. It measures the amount and flow of blood that is pumped with each heartbeat. An RVG also gives information about the size of the chambers of the heart and the strength of the heart muscle. It is also called a MUGA (multigated acquisition) scan.

The heart has 4 sections, or chambers. The upper chambers are each called atria, and the lower chambers are called ventricles. Blood flows from the right atrium into the right ventricle, and the right ventricle pumps it to the lungs. As it passes through the lungs, the blood picks up oxygen and leaves behind carbon dioxide. Then the blood flows back to the heart and into the left atrium, and from there into the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps the blood out to the rest of the body, with a small amount going to the heart muscle itself.

When is it used?

An RVG can detect early changes in your child’s heart that might be missed by other tests. It may be used to check how well the heart is pumping if your child has:

  • Heart problems that your child was born with
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Lung problems that affect the heart
  • Cardiomyopathy, which is a problem with the heart muscle

How do I prepare my child for this procedure?

  • Your child may or may not need to take regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements your child takes. Some products may increase your child’s risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell your provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Tell your provider if your child has had kidney problems or an allergy to chemicals such as contrast dye.
  • Tell your child’s healthcare provider if your older child is or you may be pregnant or is breastfeeding.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when your child should stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any instructions your child’s healthcare provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what the healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

An ECG (also called an EKG or electrocardiogram) to measure and record your child’s heartbeat is done at the same time. For an ECG, small sticky pads are put on your child’s chest, arms, and legs. Long wires will be attached to the pads and connected to a recording machine.

For the RVG, your child will lie down on a table. A radioactive chemical is injected into your child’s vein. The level of radiation is about the same as the amount from a chest X-ray. The radioactive chemical goes through the bloodstream to your child’s heart. A camera that shows the radioactive chemical takes several pictures during each heartbeat while your child is resting. Your child may also have an RVG while exercising on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle.

What happens after the procedure?

After the test, your child can go home and go back to normal activities. Any skin irritation from the ECG pads will go away quickly after they are removed.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • Rarely, your child may have an allergic reaction to the radioactive chemical.
  • Your child may have an abnormal heart rhythm during the test.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2022-01-03
Last reviewed: 2019-02-25
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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