Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to record a two-dimensional image of a beating heart. This image reveals important information about the heart's wall motion, valve function, and direction and velocity of blood flow through the valves of the heart.

During a transesophegeal echocardiogram, sound waves are transmitted from a small device on the end of a thin, flexible tube that goes down your throat to be positioned directly behind the heart. A TEE is sometimes necessary if adequate images cannot be obtained by a transthoracic echocardiogram, generally because the patient has a particularly thick layer of muscle or fat over the chest and ribcage, or because the patient has emphysema or another upper respiratory condition. Medication

How to prepare for your TEE:

  • Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before the procedure. This will minimize the risk of vomiting during the procedure. Small sips of water are allowed if needed to take prescription medications.
  • Arrange for a ride home after the procedure.
  • Let your doctor know if you have any allergies, or if you have any problems with your mouth, esophagus, or stomach, including difficulty swallowing.
  • If you have dentures, plan to remove them for the exam.

What to expect:

The exam itself takes just 10 to 30 minutes. However, your appointment will last about 2 hours, including the preparation and observation time.

At the start of the procedure, an intravenous needle will be placed in your arm or hand to deliver a mild sedative to keep you comfortable, yet still awake. You may not remember the procedure.

Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will be monitored during the procedure. Your throat will also be numbed with an anesthetic spray to minimize any pain or discomfort.

You will be asked to swallow a small device that will transmit the sound waves during the exam. The device is similar in size to a large grape; it is attached to the end of a long flexible tube, and you will swallow it in the same way you swallow food. Once you have swallowed the tube, the device will be positioned in your esophagus, directly behind your heart. Your echosonographer may rotate and move the tube and the sound device during the exam to capture different angles of the heart.

Recovery:

  • Allow 2 hours for the numbness in your throat to wear off before eating or drinking.
  • Do not drive for at least 12 hours after the procedure.
  • Avoid hot food and drink for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Mild soreness in the throat is common, and throat lozenges may help soothe the irritation.