Transesophageal Echocardiogram

What is a Transesophageal Echocardiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram is abbreviated TEE. This test is a procedure that uses ultrasound waves to examine the heart. Unlike the standard echocardiogram or echo, which is done from outside the chest, a TEE is done from inside the esophagus.

Because the esophagus lies just behind the heart, the TEE provides much clearer images of the heart than standard echo test.

What should I expect during the test?

The TEE is done at the hospital as an outpatient procedure. When you arrive you will change into a hospital gown an intravenous line or IV will be started and you will be taken to the procedure room.

You will be asked to lie on your left side. Your throat will be sprayed with an anesthetic to numb it. You may be given a low dose of a sedative through the IV line in your arm to help you relax. The doctor gently inserts the probe into your mouth. As you swallow, the tube is slowly directed into the esophagus. You may gag when the probe first enters and you may feel it enter the esophagus. Remember this test is generally not painful.

The end of the probe is positioned near the heart and the ultrasound pictures are captured. Your heart rate and blood pressure as well as EKG and oxygen level will be monitored throughout the test.

The procedure itself usually takes 15-20 minutes however you should allow 2-3 hours from your arrival to the time you can leave. You will need to have someone drive you home.

When do I get the results?

The doctor may be able to give you a preliminary result the day of the test but the final results will be discussed during a future office visit.