Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

A TEE is a test that uses ultrasound to produce images of the heart. The ultrasound transducer is placed in the esophagus (food tube) which is close to the heart. This allows for very clear pictures of the heart and its structures.

Why It’s Done

A TEE is done to find problems in the heart’s structure and function. TEE can give clearer pictures of certain structures in the heart than a standard echocardiogram.

How to Prepare

  • DO NOT eat or drink anything 6 hours before your test
  • DO take your regular medicine(s) with a sip of water
  • An adult escort must come with you to the hospital
  • Plan for someone to drive you home after the test
  • Plan to have someone stay with you at home for 4 hours after the test

What to Expect During The Test

The doctor will explain the test in detail including possible complications and side effects. Please ask any questions you have. You will sign a consent form to show that you understand the risks and benefits of the test and agree to have it done. 

  • You will be asked to: remove clothing from the waist up, put on a hospital gown and lie on a stretcher
  • An intravenous (IV) will be started in your arm 
  • A mild sedative is given through the IV to help you relax
  • Three electrodes (small, sticky patches) will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate and rhythm
  • A small clip, attached to a pulse oximeter, will be placed on your finger to monitor the oxygen level of your blood
  • Your heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the test 
  • Oxygen will be given through your nose
  • You will be given a throat spray to numb the back of your throat
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side with your head tilted slightly forward
  • Your mouth will be suctioned to remove excess secretions. This is like what happens at the dentist
  • A mouth guard may be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth 
  • The doctor will insert a thin flexible tube into your mouth, down your throat and into your esophagus. This part of the test lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable. The tube will not affect your ability to breathe
  • You may have to swallow to help move the tube into place
  • Ultrasound images will be taken and then the tube will be removed

The test will take approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours (though the tube will only be in place in your esophagus for about 15-20 minutes)

After the Test

  • You will receive specific instructions from the hospital staff before you leave 
  • You may feel drowsy
  • Remember, to have an adult stay with you for 4 hours at home
  • Your throat will feel numb. Do not eat or drink anything until the numb feeling is gone (this will take about 1 hour). Avoid alcohol or smoking
  • Choose foods that are cool and easy to swallow for your first meal
  • Side effects of a TEE are rare. If you have difficulty breathing, chest pain, or persistent bleeding, pain or fever go to your nearest emergency department. DO NOT drive yourself to the hospital. 
  • During the test you were given some medication to make you sleepy. Your memory, decision making ability and balance may be impaired for the next 24 hours.
  • It is also advised that for the next 24 hours:

• Avoid making important decisions or signing legal papers

• Do not drive or operate machinery or power tools

  •   The doctor who ordered the test will receive the results and review with you