Transesophageal Echocardiography

What is a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)?

A transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that uses sound waves to create high-quality moving pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. TEE involves a flexible tube (probe) with a transducer at its tip. Your physician will guide the probe down your throat and into your esophagus (the passage leading from your mouth to your stomach). This approach allows your doctor to get more detailed pictures of your heart because the esophagus is directly behind the heart.
TEE can also help doctors diagnose heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions in adults and children. Doctors may use TEE in addition to transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) if the TTE pictures do not provide enough information.

Why is this test performed?

TEE provides high-quality moving pictures of your heart and blood vessels. These pictures help doctors detect and treat heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions.
TEE creates pictures form inside the esophagus, which allows for closeup images of the heart. TEE offers different views and my provide more detailed images than transthoracic echocardiography (TTE).
TEE can help diagnose and assess heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions in adults and children, including:
-Coronary heart disease
-Congenital heart disease
-Heart attack
-Aortic Aneurysm
-Heart valve disease
-Injury to the heart or aorta (main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body)
TEE may also be used to prepare for surgery or assess a patient's status during or after surgery.

How is this test performed?

During TEE, your doctor will use a probe with a transducer at its tip. The transducer sends sound waves (ultrasound) to the heart. The back of your mouth will be numbed with gel or spray before the probe is put down your throat. You may feel some discomfort as the probe is guided into your esophagus.
Adults who have TEE may get medicine to help them relax during the test. The medicine will be injected into a vein.
Your doctor will insert the probe into your mouth. He or she will then gently guide it down your throat into your esophagus. Your esophagus lies directly behind your heart. Your blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and other vital signs will be checked during the test. You may be given oxygen through a tube in your nose.
TEE takes less than an hour. However, if you received medicine to help you relax, you might be watched for a few hours after the test for side effects from the medicine.

How do I prepare for this test?

TEE is regularly done in a hospital setting. You usually will need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours prior to the test.
You should let your doctor know if you take any blood-thinning medications, have difficulty swallowing, or are allergic to any medicines. If you wear dentures or oral prostheses, you will need to remove them before the test.
In the case that you receive medication to relax prior to the test, you will need to arrange for a ride home after the test.

Are there risks associated with a TEE?

There is some risk associated with the TEE test because TEE is an invasive procedure. Talk with your health care provider about risks associated with this test.