Transesophageal Echocardiogram

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

What is it?

An echocardiogram (echo) depicts the heart’s movement, valves and chambers. During the transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) test, an ultrasound transducer provides pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers for evaluation of the heart’s pumping action through a tube-like device put in the mouth and passed down the throat into the tube that connects the throat to the stomach (esophagus). Doctors use this test when they cannot get a clear picture of your heart using standard echocardiography.

How does it work?

TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to provide a moving picture of the heart. The pictures come from inside the esophagus. The sound waves are sent through the body with a transducer which is positioned on a long, thin, flexible instrument (endoscope). The endoscope is placed into the mouth and passed into your esophagus to provide a close look at heart's valves and chambers without interference from the ribs or lungs.

Reasons for a Transesophageal Electrocardiogram

TEE is preformed to:

  • Assess overall function of the heart's chambers and valves
  • Test for several types of heart disease
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of medical or surgical treatments
  • Evaluate abnormalities of the left atrium

What to Expect

The entire test takes about 90 minutes. The test will begin with the technician spraying an anesthetic in the throat to make it numb. The patient will lie down on the examination table and given an intravenous line (IV). The IV will offer a mild sedative for relaxation throughout the test. Small metal disks called electrodes will be placed on the chest which has wires (leads), which hook up to an electrocardiogram machine. This machine will monitor heart rhythm during the test.

The endoscope will then be put down the throat which is often the most uncomfortable part of the test as the patient may feel the need to gag. However, once the probe is in place, the patient should not feel any pain.

The technician will move the probe to get pictures of your heart from different angles. Once all the pictures are taken, the endoscope and IV will be removed and the patient will be disconnected from the electrocardiogram machine.

The patient may feel a little sleepy until the sedative has worn off, and may have a sore throat or trouble swallowing after the procedure for a short period of time.

St. Luke's Heart & Vascular