A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a special type of echocardiogram.

What is a transesophageal echocardiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a special type of echocardiogram. It is usually done when your doctor wants to look more closely at your heart to see if it could be producing blood clots.

Like an echocardiogram, the TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the structures of the heart. A transducer (a unit that directs the sound waves) is placed in the esophagus (the pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach).

While under sedation, an ultrasound tube is passed into the patient's esophagus in order to visualize the heart. The esophagus is close to the heart, so images from a TEE can give very clear pictures of the heart and its structures.

What should I do to prepare for my transesophaegeal echocardiogram procedure?

There are several things you need to do to prepare for your TEE.

Before you arrive:

  • Please do not eat or drink after midnight, the night before the study is performed. If the study is booked in the afternoon, you may have a light breakfast (toast, juice) before 8:00 a.m.
  • Arrive with a responsible adult who can drive you home following the study. In most cases, the study is done with sedation.

Following the procedure:

After the procedure you may still be under sedation. The back of your throat will also have been sprayed with an anaesthetic, and may feel frozen or cause you mild discomfort for a few hours.

As you recover, please:

  • Do not drive for the remainder of the day.
  • Do not operate machinery.
  • Be aware you may feel sleepy on and off during the day.
  • Ensure a responsible person can stay with you at all times for the first 24 hours.
  • Note that the throat anaesthetic may make swallowing somewhat difficult for a short period of time. We recommend that you do not eat or drink for one hour following the procedure. At that time, if water is tolerated, you may eat.

If I experience complications, when should I seek medical attention?

There is minimal risk to this procedure. The risks that do exist will be discussed with you prior to the procedure. You may experience a sore throat for 24 hours, and this is normal.

However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, or if your caregiver notices any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately or return to the nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1:

  • Pain is getting worse and not helped by medication
  • Bleeding or swelling is getting worse in the area where the procedure was done
  • Excessive drowsiness (or if someone is unable to wake you), or if your skin is pale and/or bluish colouring to lips, fingers or toes
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Pain in your chest
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

How should I plan for my discharge from hospital?

During your procedure you will have been given medicine to help you relax, and so you should follow these rules for your safety:

  • Do not drive a car for 24 hours.
  • Do not make any legal decisions for 24 hours.
  • No operating of machinery or instruments that require dexterity for 24 hours.
  • Because you have received a spray at the back of your throat before the procedure, it is important that you not eat or drink for two hours or until you can safely swallow without choking. Begin with water to be certain you can safely swallow.

Resources

The following resources have more information on transesophageal echocardiogram: