Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) for Stroke Evaluation
A TEE is a type of echocardiogram (“echo”). When an echo test is done, sound waves are used to create an image of the heart. This test also uses sound waves, but rather than emitting from a source outside of the body, the sound waves emit from a small device that is placed right behind the heart, in the esophagus. Since the sound waves are nearer to the heart, it allows clearer pictures of the heart’s movement.
How does it work?
A flexible tube is inserted into your mouth and down your esophagus. Your throat is numbed, so you should feel little or no discomfort.
Getting ready for your TEE
- Do not eat or drink for 8 hours. Your stomach needs to be empty for a TEE. If you have diabetes, discuss your plans with a doctor, since going without food may mean that you need to change your other medicines.
- Arrange to have someone drive you home from the hospital. You may not drive yourself.
- Tell your doctor if you have any problems with your throat (swallow), stomach, or esophagus. (for example, esophageal varices or past surgery)
- 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.
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 in place behind the heart, the doctor can move the probe up, down, and sideways to view the heart from a range of angles.
Bubble study with the echo.
A bubble study may be done during a TEE. It allows doctors to learn more about how blood flows through your heart and your risk for stroke. For the study, a small amount of air is injected into the IV. You will not feel any different. You will be asked to “bear down” as if having a bowel movement (without emptying bowels) during the test. The tech will let you know when and how to do this. Not every echo includes a bubble study
Though the TEE exam only takes 15-20 minutes, you will be watched after the exam. The staff will let you know when it’s okay to go. You can expect your entire appointment to last 2 hours.
After Your TEE
- 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.
- You should not drive or make important personal or business decisions until the next day.
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: 01/16/2013
Copyright © 10/08/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6952
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