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Transesophageal Echocardiogram

A transesophageal echo (TEE) test is a type of echo that uses an endoscope to guide the ultrasound transducer down the esophagus.

This allows the physician to see pictures of the patient’s heart without the ribs or lungs getting in the way.

The test is used to:

  • Check how well the heart’s valves and chambers are working
  • Look for problems, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
  • See how well the heart valves are working after surgery
  • Check for abnormalities in the top left chamber of the heart

How does it work?

During the procedure:

  • Electrodes will be placed on the patient’s chest. They are used to measure the electrical activity of your heart.
  • A blood pressure cuff will be placed on the patient’s arm to monitor blood pressure.
  • A small clip, attached to a pulse oximeter, will be placed on the patient’s finger to monitor the oxygen level in the blood.
  • The patient will gargle with a solution to numb the throat. The nurse will spray a pain-relieving medication at the back of the throat.
  • Medications will be sent through an IV to help the patient relax.
  • The patient will lie on their left side on an exam table.
  • The patient’s mouth will be suctioned to remove excess moisture.
  • The doctor will insert a thin, lubricated endoscope into the mouth, down the throat and into the esophagus. This part of the test lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable. The endoscope does not affect breathing. The patient may have to swallow to help move the endoscope into place.
  • Once the endoscope is in place, pictures of the heart are taken from various angles.
  • Heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level in the blood will be closely monitored during and right after the exam.