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What To Expect During Transesophageal Echocardiography

During transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), your doctor or your child's doctor will use a probe with a transducer at its tip. The transducer sends sound waves (ultrasound) to the heart. Probes come in many sizes; smaller probes are used for children and newborns.

The back of your mouth will be numbed with gel or spray before the probe is put down your throat. You may feel some discomfort as the probe is guided into your esophagus (the passage leading from your mouth to your stomach).

Adults having TEE may get medicine to help them relax during the test. The medicine will be injected into a vein.

Children always receive medicine to help them relax or sleep if they're having TEE. This helps them remain still so the doctor can safely insert the probe and take good pictures of the heart and blood vessels.

Your doctor will insert the probe into your mouth or nose. He or she will then gently guide it down your throat into your esophagus. Your esophagus lies directly behind your heart. During this process, your doctor will take care to protect your teeth and mouth from injury.

Transesophageal Echocardiography

The illustration shows a person having thoracentesis. The person sits upright and leans on a table. Excess fluid from the pleural space is drained into a bag.

Figure A shows a transesophageal echocardiography probe in the esophagus, which is located behind the heart. Sound waves from the probe create high-quality pictures of the heart. Figure B shows an echocardiogram of the heart's lower and upper chambers (ventricles and atrium, respectively).

Your blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and other vital signs will be checked during the test. You may be given oxygen through a tube in your nose.

TEE takes less than an hour. However, if you received medicine to help you relax, you might be watched for a few hours after the test for side effects from the medicine.

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March 7, 2012