Transesophageal Echocardiograms

A TEE is a test which uses a flexible tube that produces ultrasound waves to create pictures of the heart from inside of the esophagus and stomach. Sound waves are transmitted from an instrument, called a transducer probe, into your body. The sound waves reflect (echo) off the tissues and organs to create pictures which can be seen on a screen. The TEE provides very clear pictures of the heart structures and blood flow. The pictures are usually clearer than those obtained from a standard echocardiogram, which is performed from the chest wall. This test is often used to view hard-to-see structures or to obtain more detailed pictures of the heart and aorta. Common reasons for the test include measuring the size and pumping strength of the heart and looking at the shape and motion of the heart valves. This test may also be used to look for fluid around the heart and blood clots or masses inside of the heart or aorta.A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm. Small sticky patches, called electrodes, will be placed on your chest. An oxygen transducer will be placed on your finger to measure the amount of oxygen in your body. Your heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and breathing will be monitored during the test. You will be given oxygen. An intravenous line (or IV) will be placed into a vein in your arm. A local anesthetic will be sprayed to numb the back of your throat. Medicine will be given through your IV to help you relax and feel sleepy. The doctor will gently insert the probe into your mouth. As you swallow, the probe will be directed into your esophagus. You may feel the probe moving, but it is generally not painful. When the probe is positioned in the esophagus just behind the heart, pictures of the heart will be taken. The test will take about 1 1/2 hours.