An echocardiogram (echo) uses ultrasound to create pictures of your heart’s movement.
A transesophageal echo (TEE) test is a type of echo that uses a long, thin, tube (endoscope) to guide the ultrasound transducer down the esophagus (“food pipe” that goes from the mouth to the stomach).
This lets the doctor see pictures of the heart without the ribs or lungs getting in the way. A TEE is done when your doctor needs a closer look at your heart or does not get the information needed from a regular echo.
You may need a combination of a TEE, Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to get information about how blood flows across your heart’s valves.
Why is this test performed?
The test is used to:
- Check how well your heart’s valves and chambers are working
- Look for problems, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
- See how well your heart valves are working after surgery
- Check for abnormalities in the top left chamber of your heart (left atrium)
Before the test
If you need a TEE, please tell your doctor if you have any problems with your esophagus, such as a hiatal hernia, problems swallowing, sleep apnea, or IV drug use. It is important to tell your physician if you take medication to help you sleep, relieve anxiety, and/or narcotic pain medication.
Plan for someone to drive you home. You will be sedated for the TEE and unable to drive the same day. Please bring someone with you to drive you home and go with you to any other appointments you have. You may drive again the day after the test.
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
DO NOT eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before the test.
Should I take my medications the day of the test?
Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor. Please take your medications with only a small sip of water.
If you have diabetes and take medications to manage your blood glucose, please ask your doctor for specific instructions about taking your medication before the test.
What should I wear on the day of the test?
You may wear anything you like. You will change into a hospital gown before the test. Do not bring valuables.
What happens during the test?
Before the test, you will learn about the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. Please ask us any questions you have. You will sign a consent form to show that you understand the risks and benefits of the test and agree to have it done.
- You will change into a hospital gown.
- Electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) will be placed on your chest. They are used to measure the electrical activity of your heart (electrocardiography [ECG]).
- A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure.
- A small clip, attached to a pulse oximeter, will be placed on your finger to monitor the oxygen level in your blood.
- You will gargle with a solution to numb your throat. The nurse will spray a pain-relieving medication at the back of your throat.
- Medications will be sent through your IV to help you relax. You may feel drowsy.
- You will lie on your left side on an exam table.
- Your mouth will be suctioned to remove excess moisture.
- The doctor will insert a thin, lubricated endoscope into your mouth, down your throat and into your esophagus. This part of the test lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable. The endoscope does not affect your breathing. You may have to swallow to help move the endoscope into place.
- Once the endoscope is in place, pictures of the heart are taken from various angles (you will not feel this part of the test).
- Your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level in your blood will be closely monitored during and right after the test.
How will I feel during the test?
The sedative may make you drowsy. We will keep you as comfortable as possible. Please let us know if you feel uncomfortable at any time. Your throat may be sore or numb after the test. These feelings will go away.
How long does the test take?
The test will take about 90 minutes. Afterwards, you may need more tests. Otherwise, your driver can take you home.
Can I eat after the test?
Wait at least one hour after the test (or until the numbness in your throat is gone) before you eat or drink. Start by drinking a cool liquid. If you don’t have any problems drinking cool liquids, you can eat and drink normally.
How do I get the results of my test?
Your doctor will get your test results and share them with you.