A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a diagnostic procedure that uses echocardiography (sound waves) to assess the heart’s function.
What is a TEE?
A transesophageal echocardiogram is performed by inserting a probe with a transducer down the esophagus rather than placing the transducer on the chest.
By going through the esophagus, TEE provides a clearer image of the heart because the sound waves do not have to pass through skin, muscle, or bone tissue. TEE may also be used during surgery to assess the cardiac status of patients with known cardiac disease who are undergoing non-cardiac procedures, and during heart surgery to evaluate the effects of a surgical procedure on the heart.
What does a TEE diagnose?
Transesophageal echocardiography can evaluate the signs and symptoms of several conditions, including:
- Congenital heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Valvular heart disease
- Cardiac tumor
- Infective endocarditis
How to Prepare
Your cardiologist will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
- You will need to fast for a certain period of time prior to the procedure. Your doctor will notify you how long to fast, usually overnight.
- Notify your doctor of all medications (prescription, over-the-counter or herbal supplements) you are taking; if you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant; if you are allergic to or sensitive to medications, local anesthesia, or latex
- Your doctor may request a blood test to determine how long it takes your blood to clot.
- If a sedative is given before the procedure, you may need someone to drive your home afterwards.
What to Expect
- A TEE may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm for injection of medication and to administer IV fluids if needed. Lying on your left side, you will be connected to an ECG monitor that records the electrical activity of the heart and monitors the heart during the procedure. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vitals will also be monitored.
- A local anesthetic spray will be applied to the back of the throat and you will receive a sedative medication in your IV before the procedure to help you relax. The TEE probe will be passed through your mouth and down your throat and the necessary images will be taken.
After the Procedure
During recovery, nurses will monitor your heart rate, ECG and other vitals. You may feel weak, tired, or groggy for the remainder of the day of the procedure, and your throat may be sore for a few days.
If the procedure was performed on an outpatient basis, you may be discharged home, unless your doctor determines that your condition requires further observation or hospital admission.