Transesophageal Echocardiogram

What you should know

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (Precare) 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.

Care Agreement

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.

Getting Ready

The Night Before Your TEE:

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop taking aspirin or any other blood thinning medicines before your procedure.

  • You may be given a pill to take the night before your TEE (or surgery) to help you sleep.

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The Day of Your TEE:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

  • Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your TEE (or surgery). These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of your medicines or the pill bottles with you to the hospital.

  • Do not wear contact lenses the day of the TEE (or surgery). You may wear your glasses.

  • If you are staying in the hospital after the TEE, bring your personal belongings with you. These include your bathrobe, toothbrush, denture cup (if needed), hairbrush, and slippers. Do not wear jewelry or bring money to the hospital.

  • An anesthesiologist (an-iss-thee-z-all-o-jist) may talk to you before your surgery or procedure. This is the caregiver who gives you medicine before and during your surgery or procedure.

  • 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.


What Will Happen:

  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown or take off the clothing on your upper body. You may be given medicine in your IV to help you relax or make you drowsy. And, you may be given medicine to lessen any pain during the test. You may also get medicine sprayed into your throat to numb it. 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 the tools 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.

Waiting Room:

This is a room where your family can wait until you are you are done with the TEE. Your doctor or nurse can then find them to let them know how the TEE went. If your family leaves the hospital, ask them to leave a phone number where they can be reached. The medicine you were given during the test can continue to make you sleepy for awhile. A friend or a family member should drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours after the test.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your procedure or surgery appointment on time.

  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure or surgery.

  • You have a fever. Your procedure or surgery may need to be done later when you are well.

  • The problems for which you are having the procedure or surgery get worse.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.

  • You have signs of a heart attack:

    • Chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.

    • Nausea (sick to your stomach).

    • Trouble breathing.

    • Sweating.

    • This is an emergency. Call 911 or 0 (operator) for an ambulance to get to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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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