A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) uses ultrasound to create images of your heart with a specialized probe which is inserted into the esophagus. This test provides information about how large the heart is, how well it contracts, and how the valves function.
A TEE is usually preceded by a standard echocardiogram and may provide clearer images of structures that are difficult to view with a standard echo. Once it is in the esophagus, the ultrasound probe rests closer to the heart. This improves image and Doppler quality.
- A sonographer (a person trained in ultrasound imaging) will explain the test to you and answer any questions you may have. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate will be monitored before, during, and after the test.
- You will be asked to sign a consent form. This form is required before the test can proceed.
- You will be asked to remove any dentures or dental appliances.
- An intravenous (IV) will be inserted into a vein in one of your arms to provide a mild sedative as well as a contrast agent during the study. The contrast agent helps to make the structures show up clearly on the images. A sonographer will set up your IV line.
- You will be asked to lie down on your left side on an examining table and a towel will be placed under your mouth.
- The doctor will give you a local anesthetic to gargle and swallow and will then spray the back of your throat. This is to numb your throat and suppress the gag reflex. The anesthetic has an unpleasant taste, but is not harmful when swallowed.
- A bite guard will be placed in your mouth. The doctor will carefully insert an ultrasound probe down the back of your throat and into your esophagus. The doctor will ask you to swallow several times to allow the probe to get past the gag reflex. You will feel more comfortable once the probe is positioned behind the heart.
- The doctor will manipulate the probe as the sonographer records images and takes measurements. After about 20 minutes, the probe will be removed.
- You will remain in the area until the sonographer and the physician feel that it is safe for you to leave with an accompanying adult.
- The data will be reviewed by a cardiologist and a report will be sent to the doctor(s) involved in your care.
On the day of your test
- For six hours prior to your TEE: Do not eat or drink anything.
- Take your usual medications unless otherwise directed by your physician.
- You must be accompanied to the appointment. This person must remain in the department while the test is being performed and must accompany you home following the procedure.
After your test
- For one hour after your TEE: Do not eat or drink anything.
- For 6 to 12 hours after your TEE: Do not drive or operate heavy equipment.
- Check in with your Health Card at the Diagnostic Centre window on the first floor. Please arrive 15 minutes early. For more information, see Coming for a Diagnostic Test.
- The TEE takes about 75 minutes to complete.
- If you have any questions prior to your TEE, please call 613-696-7066, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..