A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) and a computer to look at your beating heart. For this test, a tiny probe called a transducer is attached to a flexible lighted tube and carefully placed through your mouth into your esophagus and down behind your heart. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. The probe and computer use sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart valves, chambers, blood vessels, and the heart muscle itself.
When is it used?
TEE is used to see parts of the heart that cannot be seen with a transducer placed on the outside of the chest. Because the probe is much nearer your heart when it is inside you, the TEE gives very clear pictures.
TEE may be used to:
Diagnose infections of the heart valves
Check for small blood clots in the heart
Find small holes in your heart that allow blood to pass between the two upper chambers of the heart
Diagnose aortic dissection, which is a split or tear in the big blood vessel leading from your heart to the rest of your body
How do I prepare for the procedure?
Arrange for someone to take you home after the test.
You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines may keep your heart rate from increasing to the level needed for the test. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.
What happens during the procedure?
The TEE may be done in your healthcare provider’s office or at the hospital. Your heartbeat and breathing will be checked. The back of your throat will be sprayed with local anesthetic, which will make your throat numb and keep you from gagging. You will be given medicines that make you feel relaxed, but you will stay awake. The healthcare provider will then pass the probe down your esophagus.
The procedure may be as short as a few minutes or last for a half hour or longer. The ultrasound waves from the probe are recorded for later review by your healthcare provider.
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure, you can go home as soon as you are awake and alert enough to be driven home. Your provider may recommend that you not eat or drink anything until your throat is no longer numb, which may take several hours.
Ask your healthcare provider:
How and when you will hear your test results
What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
What are the risks?
Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this test include:
You may have problems with anesthesia.
Your throat may be sore for a few hours afterward.
You may have a small tear in the esophagus when the probe is passed. If this happens, the tear may heal by itself or it may need stitches.
Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.
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Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-10 Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
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.
Echocardiogram, Transesophageal: References
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Cheitlin, MD, Armstrong, WF, Aurigemma, GP, et al. ACC/AHA/ASE 2003 guideline update for the clinical application of echocardiography: summary article: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (ACC/AHA/ASE Committee to Update the 1997 Guidelines for the Clinical Application of Echocardiography). Circulation 2003; 108:1146.
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Douglas, PS, Khandheria, B, Stainback, RF, et al. ACCF/ASE/ACEP/ASNC/SCAI/SCCT/SCMR 2007 Appropriateness Criteria for Transthoracic and Transesophageal Echocardiography A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation Quality Strategic Directions Committee Appropriateness Criteria Working Group, American Society of Echocardiography, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, and the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Endorsed by the American College of Chest Physicians and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. J Am Coll Cardiol 2007; 50:187.