- Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a test that produces pictures of your heart. TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make detailed pictures of your heart and the arteries that lead from it. Unlike a standard echocardiogram, the echo transducer that produces the sound waves for TEE is attached to a thin tube that passes through your mouth, down your throat, and into your esophagus. Because the esophagus is so close to the upper chambers of the heart, very clear images of those heart structures and valves can be obtained.
- TEE is a test that uses sound waves to make pictures of your heart’s muscle and chambers, valves, and outer lining (pericardium), as well as the blood vessels that connect to your heart. Doctors often use TEE when they need more detail than a standard echocardiogram can give them. The sound waves sent to your heart by the probe in your esophagus are translated into pictures on a video screen.
- TEE is often used to provide information during surgery to repair heart valves, a tear in the aorta, or congenital heart lesions. It’s also used during surgical treatment for endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart and valves.
- Check with your doctor. He or she may ask you not to have alcoholic drinks for a few days before the test, and not to eat or drink anything before TEE. Because you receive a sedative to help you stay calm, someone should drive you home after the test.
- After the procedure your throat may be numb for a short time. Don’t eat or drink anything until the numb feeling goes away — you could choke.
- You may have a little trouble swallowing right after the test, but this will go away within a few hours.
- It’s common to have a sore throat for a day or two after the test.
- Because of the sedative you get during the procedure, don’t drink alcohol for a day or two.
- If your sore throat gets worse or doesn’t go away after a few days, call your doctor.
HOW THE PROCEDURE IS PERFORMED
- Specially trained doctors perform TEE. It’s usually done in a hospital or a clinic and lasts 30-60 minutes.
- A technician sprays your throat with a medicine to numb it and suppress the gag reflex. You’ll lie on a table.
- A nurse puts an IV (intravenous line) in your arm, and gives you a mild sedative (medicine) to help you stay calm.
- The technician then places small metal disks (electrodes) on your chest. He or she attaches the electrodes by wires to a machine that will record your electrocardiogram (ECG) to track your heartbeat.
- The doctor then gently guides a thin, flexible tube (probe) through your mouth and down your throat, and asks you to swallow as it goes down.
- A transducer on the end of the probe sends sound waves to your heart and collects the echoes that bounce back. These echoes become pictures that show up on a video screen. This part of the test takes 10-15 minutes.
- When the doctor is finished taking pictures, the probe, IV, and electrodes are removed and nurses watch you until you are fully awake. Then you can usually get up, get dressed, and leave the clinic or hospital.
- There may be possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand why the procedure is recommended and what the potential risks are.