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Pronounced: Trans-e-sohf-ah-GE-al Eck-o-car-de-O-gra-fee
by Diana Kohnle
Echocardiography uses sound waves (ultrasound) to make images of the heart. In transesophageal echocardiography, the ultrasound probe is passed down the throat in the esophagus, or food pipe. The esophagus sits very close to the heart. This method allows for clearer images of the heart than other methods.
Reasons for Procedure
This test is done to look for problems of the heart, including:
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. You will be given light sedation for the procedure. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
You may be at higher risk for complications if you:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
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.
Description of the Procedure
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.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
There may be some mild discomfort during the procedure. Most patients 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. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Talk to your doctor about the results of the test.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Agency of Canada
Griffin BP, Topol EJ. Manual of Cardiovascular Medicine . 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Willkins; 2004.
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, Warnes CA, Danielson GK, Tajik AJ, Seward JB. Diagnosis of sinus venosus atrial septal defect With transesophageal echocardiography. Circulation . 1996;94:1049-1055.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 11/26/2012