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 to and 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. After this test, you may have a mild sore throat for a day or two. Why do people have TEE? Doctors use TEE to find problems in your heart’s structure and function. TEE can give clearer pictures of the upper chambers of the heart, and the valves between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, than standard echocardiograms. Doctors may also use TEE if you have a thick chest wall, are obese, have bandages on your chest, or are using a ventilator to help you breathe.
What are the risks of TEE?
The few risks of TEE involve passing the probe from your mouth down into your throat and esophagus. You will get medicines before the test to make you calm and to numb your throat. But you may feel like gagging. You may also have a sore throat for a day or two after the test. In very rare cases, TEE causes the esophagus to bleed.
How do I prepare for TEE?
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 for at least 4 to 6 hours before TEE. Because you receive a sedative to help you stay calm, someone should drive you home after the test.
What happens during TEE?
Specially trained doctors perform TEE. It’s usually done in a hospital or a clinic and lasts 30 to 60 minutes.