A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a special type of echocardiogram that uses sound waves to examine the heart’s structures. Your cardiologist may recommend it as a way to more closely see the heart’s shape, size, condition of the aorta, and if you are at risk for blood clots. The major difference between between a standard echocardiogram and a TEE is that a small wand is passed down your throat through to your esophagus versus it moving on the outside of your chest.
You will connected to a machine that will watch your heart rate and rhythm. You may be given a sedative to help you relax prior to the procedure. Your throat will be sprayed with an anesthetic before a small, flexible probe is inserted into your mouth and moved down into your esophagus. You may be able to feel the probe move during the procedure but it will not interfere with your breathing or cause any pain. The sound waves that bounce off your heart are converted into pictures on a monitor that your cardiologist will be continuously monitoring. The test usually takes about 20 to 40 minutes and is done in a hospital.
You will be asked not eat or drink anything for 4 to 6 hours before the procedure. Talk to your cardiologist about any prescribed medications in the case the medications need to be stopped.
You may feel a little sleepy after the sedative has worn off so please arrange to have someone drive you home. You may find that you have a sore throat after the procedure. These side effects usually go away after a couple days.
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