Transesophageal Echocardiogram Testing
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
A typical echocardiogram is called transthoracic as it looks from the outside of the chest wall in toward the heart. A TEE assesses the heart from the viewpoint of the esophagus, the food tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. Since the esophagus sits behind the heart, the echo beam does not have to travel through the front of the chest, avoiding interference from the ribs and lungs. The TEE offers a much clearer image of the heart especially the left atrium and valves.
The TEE is used for a variety of reasons including:
- Poor image quality of the transthoracic echocardiogram
- Identifying the severity of aortic, mitral, tricuspid, and pulmonic valvular disease
- Looking for a source of blood clots that could cause a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Finding a source of cardiac infection
- Identifying congenital heart defects
This procedure is performed in the hospital under conscious sedation. A IV will be placed and you will receive a medication that will make you very sleepy. It is not painful and you are unlikely to remember any portion of the test. The diagnosis will be given after the procedure. The TEE takes 90 minutes from the beginning of sedation to recovery, but family/friend must drive you home afterwards. Please do not eat or drink 8 hours before procedure. This test is usually done in the morning after an overnight fast.