Some cancer treatments can lower your ejection fraction — the ability of the left ventricle to pump blood — leading to an increased risk of heart failure. If you have had chemotherapy or radiation in the area of the heart, you may receive several tests to monitor the ejection fraction during treatment or for several years after treatment (or both). These may include:
3D Echocardiogram with Strain Imaging
This is a newer and more sensitive ultrasound test that allows for a three-dimensional view of the moving heart and early detection of damage to the heart before it leads to a decline in the heart’s ability to pump. This noninvasive test uses a transducer that is placed on your left chest and abdomen as you lie on your left side. It lasts approximately 45 – 60 minutes and is performed by specially trained ultrasound technologists. There are instances when you will need an intravenous (IV) line to allow the use of a medication called Definity® that enhances the ultrasound pictures. A cardiologist will interpret the results and generate a report that is then sent to your oncologist.
This detailed test is usually requested when there are concerns about the structure of the heart or there is an inability to obtain adequate pictures by echocardiogram. It employs a non-radiating contrast and requires you to lie on a moving table that slides you through a magnetic field.
An echocardiogram — also called an “echo” — is a type of ultrasound test that sends sound waves through the chest wall to your heart. The sound waves bounce off the heart and are turned into moving pictures that can be seen on a video screen. The pictures can be used to assess potential harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy on the heart.
Multigated Acquisition (MUGA)
The MUGA test involves introducing a radioactive solution through an IV line and then taking an X-ray. It calculates the ability of the heart’s main chamber to pump. The test duration is approximately 30 – 45 minutes.