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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Overview

  • Your doctor has recommended a TEE to visualize the parts of the heart that are not easily seen when the Ultrasound probe is placed on the surface of the chest
  • An experienced Cardiologist and Technologist will perform the examination
  • Total examination time is normally about 60 minutes.
  • TEE can only be done on an empty stomach.  It is very important that you DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING for a minimum of 6 hours before the test.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to the procedure.
  • You will be given a local anaesthetic spray to freeze the back of the throat to minimize gagging (the normal reflex at the back of the throat).
  • An intravenous line will be administered and most patients require some intravenous sedation to help them relax
  • The medications commonly used are Diazemuls (Valium) and Fentanyl (a short-acting narcotic.)
  • A flexible tube with an Ultrasound imaging tip will be inserted into the esophagus, or swallowing tube.  Please inform us prior to the procedure if you have had any surgery on your esophagus or if you have any difficulty swallowing. 
  • The risk of any serious complication of the procedure (such as damaging the throat or esophagus) is about 1 in 5000.
  • You will be asked to swallow so that the probe can be positioned near the heart.  Live images of the heart structures will be digitally captured and stored.