Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
What is a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)?
A TEE is an ultrasound test that examines the heart and it’s structures. The TEE is a special form of ultrasound testing that is done through the esophagus (the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach). By placing the special ultrasound probe (especially made to be placed in the esophagus) in the esophagus the doctor performing the test is able to obtain very clear and detailed pictures of your heart. This will enable him/her to determine with great confidence if the cause of your symptoms are coming from your heart.
How does the TEE work?
First, the physician in charge of your test will determine if there exist any reason why you should not have the test. He/she will also ask you questions to find out why you are having the test. This is necessary because many times the physician ordering the test is not the same doctor performing the test. After this the physician in charge will give a sedative to help you to relax and to numb your swallowing reflex. This will enable the special probe (about the size of a small finger) to easily pass into your esophagus. Throughout the entire procedure you are closely monitored by a RN and a specially trained echo technician to ensure your safety.
Once the probe is in place, sound waves coming from the special probe reflect off of your heart (echo), return to the probe which turns the sound waves into very detailed images of your heart. The images actually show your heart beating and all the valves opening and closing as will as the blood flowing through your heart. It will also show if there are any abnormal structures or objects (such as a blood clot) in your heart. All of this will be displayed on a monitor and recorded on tape so the physician can review all the findings and store the images for any future reference. The entire length of the test should take 90 minutes, with the probe being inserted for about 10-15 minutes.
Are there any special preparations for the test?
Yes, there are several things you will have to do before the test.
1. Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before the test. This is to ensure that your stomach is empty during the test. You may have sips of water to take your medicine.
2. If your test has been scheduled as an outpatient procedure, make sure someone drives you to the hospital. Due to the medication used during the test, you will probably be drowsy after the test and not able to drive.
3. Make sure you tell the doctor in charge of the test if you have had any problems in the past with swallowing or problems with your esophagus or stomach.
4. If you wear dentures or oral prostheses, you will need to remove before the test.
Is the TEE safe?
Because the special probe is inserted into the esophagus there are some risk to this procedure. These include breathing problems, abnormal heart rhythms, infection of the heart valves, bleeding, reaction to the medicines given and very rare instances of damaging the esophagus. If you have questions, talk with your physician before the test.
Why is a TEE done?
There are several reasons why you doctor may have determined that you need a TEE. Some of the more common reasons are:
♥ to find blood clots too small to see with a surface echo.
♥ to locate any abnormal masses
♥ to examine artificial valves
♥ to look for any infection in the heart
♥ to look for any tears and holes in the heart
♥ When the surface echo is of inadequate quality due to obesity or chronic lung disease.
Where do you go once you arrive at the hospital?
Once at the hospital, go to Central Registration on the ground floor. After you register, they will give you directions to the Endoscopy unit of 3 West. Your family and friends will be able to wait in the waiting room on the Endoscopy unit.
What are the benefits of the test?
Images obtained from TEE are often much clearer than images obtained from regular surface echo’s. This will enable the physician to accurately diagnose your complaints and give recommendations for any appropriate treatment.
If you have any questions, please call 740-439-8461.