Pronounced: Trans-e-sohf-ah-GE-al Eck-o-car-de-O-gra-fee
Echocardiography]]> uses sound waves (ultrasound) to make images of the heart. In transesophageal echocardiography, the ultrasound probe is passed down the throat in the esophagus, or food pipe. The esophagus sits very close to the heart. This method allows for clearer images of the heart than other methods.
Reasons for Procedure
This test is done to look for problems of the heart, including:
- Enlarged heart
- Thickening of the heart walls
- Heart valve malfunction
- Blood clots
- Other conditions
Abnormal Heart Walls
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. You will be given light sedation for the procedure. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Bleeding or damage to the throat or esophagus
You may be at higher risk for complications if you:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Avoid alcohol for several days before the procedure. Alcohol may interfere with the type of sedative used.
- Do not eat or drink for 4-8 hours before the procedure.
You will be given a mild sedative through an IV. You will be sleepy throughout the procedure. A topical anesthetic may also be applied to the back of the throat. This will numb the throat.
Description of the Procedure
You will be asked to lie on your side in a hospital gown. The ultrasound probe will be slid down your throat and into the esophagus until it is near the heart. The device will create active images of the heart. When the imaging is done, the probe will be taken out.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
There may be some mild discomfort during the procedure. Most patients sleep through the procedure and remember very little of it. Your throat may be sore for a few days.
You will need a ride home from the procedure. Do not eat or drink until the numbness in your throat wears off. This will keep you from inhaling food or drink into the lungs. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Talk to your doctor about the results of the test.
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Agency of Canada
Griffin BP, Topol EJ. Manual of Cardiovascular Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Willkins; 2004.
Niedermeyer J, Daniel WG. Value of transesophageal echocardiography in diagnosis of diseases of native heart valves. Herz. 1993;18(6):329-340.
Pascoe RD, Oh JK, Warnes CA, Danielson GK, Tajik AJ, Seward JB. Diagnosis of sinus venosus atrial septal defect With transesophageal echocardiography. Circulation. 1996;94:1049-1055.
Last reviewed December 2009 by ]]>Craig Clark, DO, FACC, FAHA, FASE]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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