Transesophageal Echocardiography

ExitCare ImageA transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a special type of test that produces images of the heart by sound waves (echocardiogram). This type of echocardiogram can obtain better images of the heart than a standard echocardiogram. A TEE is done by passing a flexible tube down the esophagus. The heart is located in front of the esophagus. Because the heart and esophagus are close to one another, your caregiver can take very clear, detailed pictures of the heart via ultrasound waves.

WHY HAVE A TEE?

Your caregiver may need more information based on your medical condition. A TEE is usually performed due to the following:

  • Your caregiver needs more information based on standard echocardiogram findings.

  • If you had a stroke, this might have happened because a clot formed in your heart. A TEE can visualize different areas of the heart and check for clots.

  • To check valve anatomy and function. Your caregiver will especially look at the mitral valve.

  • To check for redness, soreness, and swelling (inflammation) on the inside lining of the heart (endocarditis).

  • To evaluate the dividing wall (septum) of the heart and presence of a hole that did not close after birth (patent foramen ovale, PFO).

  • To help diagnose a tear in the wall of the aorta (aortic dissection).

  • During cardiac valve surgery, a TEE probe is placed. This allows the surgeon to assess the valve repair before closing the chest.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Swallowing difficulties.

  • An esophageal obstruction.

  • Use of aspirin or antiplatelet therapy.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Though extremely rare, an esophageal tear (rupture) is a potential complication.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Arrive at least 1 hour before the procedure or as told by your caregiver.

  • Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before the procedure or as told by your caregiver.

  • An intravenous (IV) access tube will be started in the arm.

PROCEDURE

  • A medicine to help you relax (sedative) will be given through the IV.

  • A medicine that numbs the area (local anesthetic) may be sprayed to the back of the throat.

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing (vital signs) will be monitored during the procedure.

  • The TEE probe is a long, flexible tube. It is about the width of an adult male's index finger. The tip of the probe is placed into the back of the mouth and you will be asked to swallow. This helps to pass the tip of the probe into the esophagus. Once the tip of the probe is in the correct area, your caregiver can take pictures of the heart.

  • A TEE is usually not a painful procedure. You may feel the probe press against the back of the throat. The probe does not enter the trachea and does not affect your breathing.

  • Your time spent at the hospital is usually less than 2 hours.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will be in bed, resting until you have fully returned to consciousness.

  • When you first awaken, your throat may feel slightly sore and will probably still feel numb. This will improve slowly over time.

  • You will not be allowed to eat or drink until it is clear that numbness has improved.

  • Once you have been able to drink, urinate, and sit on the edge of the bed without feeling sick to your stomach (nauseous) or dizzy, you may be cleared to dress and go home.

  • Do not drive yourself home. You have had medications that can continue to make you feel drowsy and can impair your reflexes.

  • You should have a friend or family member with you for the next 24 hours after your examination.

Obtaining the test results

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • There is chest pain.

  • You have a hard time breathing or have shortness of breath.

  • You cough or throw up (vomit) blood.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch this condition.

  • Will get help right away if you is not doing well or gets worse.