Definition

Echocardiography uses sound waves to make images of the heart. In transesophageal echocardiography, the ultrasound probe is passed down the throat and in to the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach. 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
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Other conditions
  • Abnormal Heart Walls

    Heart wall disease

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    Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

        
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding or damage to the mouth, throat, or esophagus
  • You may be at higher risk for complications if you:

        
  • Have throat problems
  • Had radiation therapy to the throat
  • Have a history of stomach ulcers or esophageal varices
  • Have strictures or narrowing of the esophagus
  • Have sleep apnea or severe respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 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.
  • Arrange to have someone give you a ride home after the procedure.
  • Anesthesia

    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?

    15-30 minutes

    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.

    Post-procedure Care

    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.

    Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

        
  • Sore throat does not subside or worsens
  • Pain in the throat or chest develops
  • Difficulty breathing
  • If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.