What is a transesophageal echocardiogram?

Transesophageal echocardiograms are a type of echocardiogram that allow us to see your heart and how well it is functioning.

What is the difference between a TEE and a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)?

With a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), a technician will move a transducer (a device that emits the sound waves and collects the data for your heart) over your chest.  With a transesophageal echocardiogram, a very small transducer is inserted into your esophagus.

What are the benefits of a TEE?

With a TEE, the images of your heart are much clearer because the transducer is closer to your heart and the sound waves do not have to pass through skin, bones, or muscle (all of which can distort the images).

How is a TEE performed?

You will have a sedative and an anesthetic applied to your throat before the procedure to make you more comfortable. It will also ensure you do not gag or choke. A thin tube with an ultrasound-imaging device at its tip will be inserted into your esophagus. The transducer will then be able to obtain a clear image of your heart.

How long does a TEE take?

About two hours.

What do I have to do to prepare for a TEE?

  • Make sure to tell us prior to having a TEE if you have any medical issues with your throat, esophagus, or stomach
  • Do not eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the test
  • You will need someone to drive you home after the test

How safe is a TEE?

Echocardiogram tests are considered safe, as the sound waves have not shown to cause side effects. However, with a TEE, there is a small risk of throat injury or damage.

What should I expect after the test?

  • You may have some soreness in your throat
  • The medicines may make you sleepy for several hours after the test