Taking Care of Your Hearts

Transesophageal Echocardiography

What is a Transesophageal Echocardiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a type of echo in which the ultrasound transducer, positioned on an endoscpe, is guided down the patient’s throat into the esophagus. An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible instrument that is about ½ inch in diameter.


The TEE provided a close look at the heart’s valves and chambers, without interference from the ribs or lungs. This test is often used when the results from standard echoes are not sufficient, or when your doctor wants a close look at your heart. TEE can be combined with Doppler ultrasound to evaluate blood flow across the heart valves.


Before the test:

Please tell your doctor if you have or have had any problems with your esophagus, such as a hiatal hernia, problems swallowing, or cancer.


Please plan to bring someone with you on the day of the test so that you will have a ride home. You should not drive until the day after the test, as the sedation givien during the test makes it unsafe to to drive.


Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor. If you must take medication before the test, take it only with a small sip of water.


Do NOT eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before the test.


You may wear anything you like. You will change into a hospital gown before the test. Please do no bring any valuables.


What happens during the test?

Before the test begins, the health care provider will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and risks. You will be given a hospital gown to wear. 

The sonographer will place three electrodes on your chest to record your heart’s electrical activity. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure. A small clip, attached to a pulse oximeter, will be placed on your finger to monitor the oxygen level of your blood. You will be given a solution to gargle that will numb your throat. A nurse will spray an anesthetic at the back of your throat. The doctor or nurse will put medications into your IV to help you relax. You may feel drowsy. The doctor will insert a thin, lubricated endoscope into your mouth, down your throat, and into your esophagus. This part of the test lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable. You may be asked to swallow at certain times to help pass the endoscope. Once the probe is in position, images of the heart are obtained at various angles. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level will be closely monitored during and immediately following the test.



How long does the test take?

The test will take about 90 minutes. After you have recovered from the sedation, you may go home. Remember, you cannot drive yourself home after the test.