Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Why is the doctor performing this procedure?

To visualize a detailed image of the heart’s movement, valves, and chambers.

What is the procedure?

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an ultrasound study used to view the heart’s anatomy and function. A transducer that emits high-frequency sound waves is placed into your mouth and into the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This location is closer to the heart (the esophagus lies directly behind the heart), and allows a real-time view of the heart that has much less interference from the chest wall and lungs than routine echocardiography.

For the test, the patient is hooked up to several monitors, they gargle a solution that numbs the throat (or the throat is sprayed with a numbing medicine), and they receive a sedative intravenously. Then a tube called a transducer probe is passed thru the mouth, into the esophagus, and the ultrasound pictures are taken. The transducer probe is removed, and the patient rests until both the sedative and the throat numbing medicine wear off.

Where is the procedure performed?

Generally in the Non-Invasive Cardiology Testing Center, or in the Intensive Care Unit if the patient is housed there.  It is often done in conjunction with other procedures, e.g. open heart surgery, and septal closures in the Cath Lab or Operating Room.

How long does this procedure take?

TEE usually takes 15 - 30 minutes, with an additional hour of recovery time.