A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an echocardiogram (using harmless sound waves) obtained from the esophagus (the passage way from the mouth to the stomach). This allows the images of the heart to be obtained through the softer tissue of the esophagus rather than from the outside of the chest and through the ribs. The images obtained are clearer images. Cardiac images that are difficult to obtain may be obtained by utilizing TEE.
The patient is requested not to eat or drink for 6 hours. The patient must tell the physician or nurse if he or she has any difficulty swallowing, has had esophageal surgery or has a condition of the esophagus or stomach, wears dentures or has any allergies to medications. The patient will need someone to drive him or her home after the test.
The patient may be given a spray anesthetic to numb the throat. A sedative will be given through an IV to help the patient relax. The patient will be requested to swallow a probe. The probe will be positioned in the stomach and esophagus to obtain images. The heart rate, EKG, blood pressure and breathing will be monitored continuously. This test will last 10 to 30 minutes. The patient will be allowed to leave the hospital in approximately an hour to an hour and a half after the test. A physician who is especially trained to perform and read transesophageal echocardiograms will read the results.
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