By: Nancy Barker, PA-C
A transesophageal echocardiogram or (TEE) enables the heart to be evaluated from behind, rather than the front-sided approach offered by the more standard transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). This approach is recommended when the heart cannot be adequately visualized through the chest wall because of the lungs, breast tissue, muscle, or bones. With TEE, the echo transducer or probe is placed into the esophagus (the muscular passage that connects the mouth to the stomach.) The transducer for this procedure is much smaller than the one used in TTE. The TEE allows the heart to be visualized from the esophagus, and avoids those tissues that may obscure the heart, resulting in a much clearer picture of the heart and its structures.
How do I prepare for a TEE test?
- Do not eat or drink six hours before the procedure.
- Take prescribed medications with sips of water if your physician recommends this.
- Make arrangements to have someone drive you home. Driving is not permitted after this procedure as you will receive a small amount of sedation.
- Notify the physician or nurse of any allergies to medicines and/or swallowing issues.
- Remove dentures.
How is the TEE performed?
Patients are given a sedative through an IV (intravenous) line and asked to lie on their left side. The throat is sprayed with an anesthetic to numb it. The patient is then asked to swallow the transducer in the same way that they would swallow food. The IV sedative and anesthetic spray minimize any discomfort or pain. Once the transducer is in position behind the heart, the physician can examine the heart by moving the tip of the transducer in various directions. A nurse monitors heart rate, blood pressure, heart rhythm and breathing throughout the procedure. If needed, oxygen may be administered and the mouth may be suctioned. The actual procedure takes between 10 and 30 minutes. The remainder of the time is spent preparing the patient for the procedure, evaluating the image, and observing the patient after the procedure.
How do patients feel afterwards?
Generally, patients may feel tired from the sedative. Their throats may also be sore. Eating and drinking must be avoided for the first two hours after the procedure as a precaution because of the anesthetic spray and the potential for aspirating food or drink into the lungs. Sore throat lozenges may be used after the two hours if needed. Driving is not allowed for 12 hours after the procedure because of the use of sedatives. In rare instances, patients may experience persistent pain, bleeding or fevers. They should notify their physician immediately if any of those symptoms arise.
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This page was last modified on 11/13/2013