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What Does Transesophageal Echocardiography Show?

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) provides high-quality moving pictures of your heart and blood vessels. These pictures help doctors detect and treat heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions.

TEE creates pictures from inside the esophagus (the passage leading from the mouth to the stomach) or, sometimes, from inside the stomach. Because the esophagus lies directly behind the heart, TEE provides closeup pictures of the heart.

TEE also offers different views and may provide more detailed pictures than transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), the most common type of echo. (For TTE, the transducer is placed on the chest, outside of the body.)

Your doctor may recommend TEE if he or she needs more information than TTE can provide. TEE can help diagnose and assess heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions in adults and children. Examples of these diseases and conditions include:

TEE also can show blood clots that may have caused a stroke or that may affect treatment for atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia.

Doctors also may use TEE during cardiac catheterization. TEE can help doctors guide the catheter (thin, flexible tube) through the blood vessels. TEE also can help doctors prepare for surgery or assess a patient's status during or after surgery.

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March 7, 2012