Transesophageal Echocardiogram


Transesophageal Echocardiogram (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

  • A transesophageal (trans-eh-sof-uh-g-ull) echocardiogram (eh-ko-kar-d-o-gram) is a test to check for problems inside and on your heart. It can also check for problems in the veins and arteries near your heart. It is often just called "TEE" or transesophageal echocardiography (eh-ko-kar-d-ah-gruh-fee). TEE is very much like a regular echocardiogram. But TEE is more accurate and can be used when problems with the chest make regular echocardiogram hard to do.

  • TEE works like the sonar used by whales and submarines to find objects under water. Harmless sound waves are sent into the heart through a tube put down your throat. Parts of the heart like the walls, valves, muscles, and blood vessels send echoes back to the machine. The motion of the echoes is traced on a machine and recorded on film. This recording tells caregivers about how your heart looks and works. You may need a TEE because of problems with your heart muscles, valves, or if you have infection in your heart.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


There are risks with having a TEE, such as trouble breathing or unusual heartbeats. Other risks include putting a hole in your esophagus (food tube) or trachea (air tube) in your throat. Your blood pressure may go too high or too low. Caregivers will watch you closely for these rare problems. Tell caregivers if you have problems with blood clotting, trouble swallowing or have had radiation treatments.


Blood Tests:

You may need blood taken for tests. The blood can be taken from a vein in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. It is tested to see how your body is doing before your procedure or surgery. You may need to have blood drawn more than once.

Call Button:

You can use the call button when you need your caregiver. Pain, trouble breathing, or wanting to get out of bed are good reasons to call .


You will be asked to remove dentures or removable bridges. This protects them from being broken during the test.


You may be asked to take off the clothing on your upper body. Or, you may be asked to wear a hospital gown so that caregivers can more easily check and treat you. Put your gown on so it opens in the front. You may not be allowed to wear pajama bottoms. This is because you may need monitors put on your skin during the TEE.

Informed Consent:

You have the right to understand your health problem in words you can understand. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat your problem. Your doctor should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments, or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to you. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.


An IV is a tube placed in your vein for giving medicine or liquids. This tube is capped or connected to tubing and liquid.

Before the TEE:

Tell your caregiver if you are taking any medications. The test may be done in the bed in your hospital room or in a special procedure room. Or, it may be done in the operating room if you are having surgery.


  • Your throat will be sprayed with medicine to make it numb. You may also get a liquid to gargle that numbs your throat. These medicines may make your tongue and throat feel swollen.

  • You will get medicine through your IV to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. And, medicine so you do not have pain. You will be awake and able to answer questions.

Heart Monitor:

This is also called an EKG or an electrocardiogram (e-lek-tro-kar-d-o-gram). It is a painless test to see how your heart is working. Sticky pads (3 or 5) are placed on different parts of your body. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a TV-type screen. This screen shows a tracing of each heartbeat. Your heart is being watched all the time to make sure your body is handling surgery well.

Pulse Oximeter (oks-ih-mih-ter):

This is a machine that tells how much oxygen is in your blood to see if you need more oxygen. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your ear, finger, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.

Vital Signs:

This includes taking your temperature, blood pressure, pulse (counting your heartbeat), and respirations (counting your breaths). To take your blood pressure, a cuff is put on your arm and tightened. It is attached to a machine which gives your blood pressure reading. Caregivers may listen to your heart and lungs by using a stethoscope (steth-uh-skop). Your vital signs are taken so caregivers can see how you are doing.

During the TEE:

  • You will lie down on a bed on your left side with your chin bent down to touch your chest. Caregivers will put a mouthguard into your mouth. The mouthguard keeps you from biting down on the tools that caregivers put into your mouth.

  • A caregiver will put an endoscope (end-uh-skop) into your mouth and down your throat. An endoscope is a long, thin, bendable tube with a light, mirrors and a transducer (trans-dew-sir) on the end. The transducer is a small transmitter that sends the sound waves from your chest. You may be asked to swallow several times as the transducer is moved down your throat. The transducer can then send sound waves from behind your heart. The TEE usually takes less than 45 minutes.

After the TEE:

You will rest until you are fully awake. The feeling will slowly return to your throat. Do not eat or drink until you are able to swallow well. You can then get dressed and may be able to go home. The medicine you were given can make you sleepy for awhile so you should not drive. A friend or a family member should drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours after the test. Or, you may be staying in the hospital after the TEE if you also had surgery. Do not get out of bed until caregivers say it is OK.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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