Heart Center: Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

What is a TEE?

A TEE is a sonogram of the heart that is done from inside the esophagus (the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach). Ultrasound waves from the TEE tube are converted into images of the blood flow and the structures in the heart.

Why is a TEE done?

We use a TEE to look more closely at defects in the heart. Because the esophagus lies directly behind the heart, an echocardiogram done from this location provides better pictures of the heart. A regular echocardiogram, done from outside the chest, may not provide clear enough pictures of the heart defect.

Using the TEE, the cardiologist can better locate and measure the size of the defect, which is important in choosing the type and size of device that will be used to close the defect in the heart. The TEE helps guide the device to the correct place in the heart, and once the device is placed, the TEE checks the position and function of the device.

What happens during the test?

After the patient is put under anesthesia and is asleep, a TEE tube is placed into the patient's mouth and inserted into the esophagus to a position behind the heart. Once the tube is in place, the cardiologist can move the probe in order to see the necessary structures. The TEE tube stays in place during the procedure and is removed only after making sure the device is in the right place.

What are the risks of a TEE?

Because the TEE tube is inserted into the esophagus, there is a small risk of complications from the procedure. Possible complications include breathing problems, changes in heart rhythm, damage to the esophagus, damage to the teeth, minor bleeding from the esophagus, infection, and sore throat.

It is important to remember that the patient's vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation, are constantly monitored during the procedure. Any changes in the patient's condition will be quickly identified.

What to expect after the TEE

After the TEE, the patient may have a sore throat from the TEE tube. Once the patient is allowed to drink, cool drinks are usually enough to soothe the sore throat.

If you have any questions or concerns about the TEE, make sure to talk your cardiologist about them before the procedure.

This site is the property of Children's Medical Center Dallas. The information contained in it is intended for general education only and IS NOT meant to take the place of the judgment of medical providers.

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