A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a variation of the echocardiogram that is performed in patients where a traditional echocardiogram may not have provided enough information. The echotransducer, a device that produces high- frequency sound waves, is passed down the food pipe (esophagus) to look closely at the heart valves and chambers to check for abnormalities. The TEE is performed while using a topical spray to numb the throat and heavy sedation to avoid discomfort during the test.
Prior to the procedure it is important to avoid eating for six hours; daily medications are usually taken with sips of water. Since heavy sedation is used for this test, patients are restricted from driving for the remainder of the day and should take it easy at home. Patients are required to have a responsible person accompany them home.
Most commonly after the procedure people feel a bit groggy for a few hours and have a sore throat that can be treated with lozenges. There are small risks associated with this test, including reaction to the sedative, or rarely, loss of a tooth, damage to the throat or esophagus, or difficulty breathing.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Echocardiograms and Transesophageal Echocardiograms
The following questions can help you talk to your physician about echocardiograms, transesophageal echocardiograms, and intracardiac echocardiograms. Consider printing out or writing down these questions and taking them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.
- What can an echocardiogram tell us about my heart?
- What happens next if the echocardiogram reveals a potential problem?
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
- What can a transesophageal echocardiogram tell us about my heart?
- What are the possible benefits for me of TEE?
- Do I need to have an empty stomach before the procedure? Should I withhold any of my medications? Are there any medications that I will need to take?
- What happens next if TEE reveals a potential problem?
- What are my individual risks associated with having a TEE test?
Please print this list of questions here. Take them with you to the doctor and share them with friends and loved ones when you are encouraging them to see their doctors.