A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an ultrasound test that uses sound waves to study the heart. TEE is used in place of a standard echo test when clearer images of the heart are needed.
How a TEE Works
A long, flexible tube (probe) is placed into the mouth and down the esophagus (food tube). On the tip of the probe is a small microphone-like device called a transducer. This tiny device sends ultrasound waves that bounce off parts of the heart, and then it picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer. The computer turns the echoes into moving images of the heart. The images show the size and motion of various parts of the heart as well as the flow of blood through the chambers and valves.
Getting Ready for a TEE
- Do not eat or drink for 8 hours. Your stomach needs to be empty for a TEE. If you have diabetes, let your doctor know since you may need special instructions.
- Arrange to have someone drive you home from the hospital. You may not drive yourself since you may be drowsy.
- Tell your doctor if you have any problems swallowing or problems with your stomach or esophagus, e.g. esophageal varices or surgery.
- Let us know if you are allergic to any medicines.
- Before a TEE, your doctor will tell you about the test and its risks and benefits. Plan to sign a consent form. If you have any questions, please ask.
Although the risk is small, the following complications can occur:
What to Expect During Your TEE
When you arrive, you will change into a hospital gown. An IV (intravenous tube) will be placed into a vein in your arm. If you wear dentures, they will be removed before the TEE is started.
You will be asked to lie on your left side. Your throat will be sprayed with a numbing medicine (anesthetic). You will also receive medicine through your IV to help you relax.
The doctor gently places the probe into your mouth. As you swallow, the probe is guided into your esophagus. Although you may gag as the probe is inserted, most people do not feel pain. Once the probe is positioned behind the heart, the doctor can move the probe up, down, and sideways to view the heart from a range of angles.
Though the TEE exam only takes 15-20 minutes, expect to be at the hospital for over 2 hours.
After Your TEE
- Do not drive for at least 12 hours.
- Do not eat or drink until your throat is no longer numb (about 1 hour).
- Your throat may be sore. After the first hour, soothe it with cold drinks and lozenges.
- Due to a side effect of the medicine, you may not remember the test.
When to Call Your Doctor
- Trouble swallowing.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor or the UW Health Emergency Room at 608-262-2398.
The doctor doing the TEE should be able to give you preliminary results before you leave. Your doctor will receive a written report and talk with you about the final results.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/24/2011
Copyright © 08/24/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6138
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