Echocardiography uses sound waves to make images of the heart. In transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), the ultrasound probe is passed down the throat and in to the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach. The esophagus sits very close to the heart. This method allows for clearer images of the heart than other methods.
This test is done to look for problems of the heart, including:
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
You may be at higher risk for complications if you:
You will be given a mild sedative through an IV. You will be sleepy throughout the procedure. A topical anesthetic may also be applied to the back of the throat. This will numb the throat.
You will be asked to lie on your side in a hospital gown. The ultrasound probe will be slid down your throat and into the esophagus until it is near the heart. The device will create active images of the heart. When the imaging is done, the probe will be taken out.
There may be some mild discomfort during the procedure. Most people sleep through the procedure and remember very little of it. Your throat may be sore for a few days.
You will need a ride home from the procedure. Do not eat or drink until the numbness in your throat wears off. This will keep you from inhaling food or drink into the lungs.
Talk to your doctor about the results of the test.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Agency of Canada
Hilberath JN, Oakes DA, et al. Safety of transesophageal echocardiography. J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2010;23(11):1115-1127.
Niedermeyer J, Daniel WG. Value of transesophageal echocardiography in diagnosis of diseases of native heart valves. Herz. 1993;18(6):329-340.
Pascoe RD, Oh JK, et al. Diagnosis of sinus venosus atrial septal defect with transesophageal echocardiography. Circulation. 1996;94:1049-1055.
Transesophageal echocardiography. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/SymptomsDiagnosisofHeartAttack/Transesophageal-Echocardiography-TEE_UCM_441655_Article.jsp. Updated September 11, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Ultrasound (sonography). Radiologic Society of North America Radiology Info website Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=genus. Updated June 23, 2014. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 5/2/2014