A Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that allows doctors to obtain images of the heart from inside the esophagus. The TEE provides clearer images than a standard echocardiogram because the esophagus lies so close to the heart. The TEE benefits the doctor and patient in numerous ways. It enables the doctor to detect blood clots, infection in the heart valves, holes between the heart chambers, and more. The TEE is often used to examine the hard-to-see structures of the heart.
How it Works
When a transesophageal echocardiogram is performed a long, flexible tube is inserted into the mouth and down the esophagus. A small transducer at the end of the probe sends ultrasound waves that reflect off the various parts of the heart. These reflections or echoes are converted into moving images that the doctor can look at. The image produced by the echocardiogram shows the shape and movement of the different heart structures, along with the flow of blood through the chambers and valves.
A TEE is performed at the hospital as an outpatient. The patient must NOT eat or drink anything (not even water) for 6 hours before the procedure. You will need someone to drive you home since you may be too drowsy from the medication. Bring all of your medications with you to the hospital.
At the Hospital
A nurse will ask you about medical history. You will need to sign consents for the procedure. An I.V. will be started. The test takes about 15-20 minutes, but you should allow 1-2 hours from your arrival time. You will not be allowed to eat or drink for about an hour after the procedure, or until your throat is no longer numb. Your throat may be sore for a day or so after the TEE. Consult your physician if you experience difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, chest pain, bleeding, or fever.