Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

What is a Transesophageal Echocardiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a specialized test to view your heart using sound waves. For certain conditions a regular echocardiogram cannot provide enough information, and more detailed pictures of the heart need to be obtained. During a TEE a flexible tube is passed through you mouth into your esophagus. Sound waves pass through your esophagus looking directly at the heart without having to travel through skin, bones, and lung as is the case for a regular echocardiogram.

Why is it ordered?

The detailed pictures that are obtained during a TEE can help in the diagnosis and treatment of many cardiovascular conditions including stroke, patent foramen ovale, atrial septal defect, atrial fibrillation, valvular heart disease, heart valve replacement, and endocarditis, It is commonly performed as part of a cardioversion to make sure there are no blood clots inside the heart before restoring your heart rhythm to normal.

What can I expect the day of my test?

  • No food for 8 hours before your test
  • Adhesive patches will be placed on your skin to monitor your electrocardiogram.
  • A nurse or technologist will place an IV in your arm.
  • You wil receive numbing spray to the back of your throat to make swallowing the TEE probe easier.
  • You will be given intravenous sedation.
  • After you swallow the tube it takes about 10 minutes to take all the pictures of your heart.
  • You will be monitored after your test for an hour or two. You may feel a little groggy for the remainder of the day.
  • You will need a ride home. You cannot drive yourself because of the sedation you will have received.