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Transesophageal Echocardiogram


A transesophageal echocardiogram is a type of echocardiogram that involves your doctor bouncing sound waves off your heart with an instrument he guides down the throat, instead of placing it over the chest. A transesophageal echocardiogram is used as an alternative when a standard echo test is prohibited due to:

  • Obesity
  • Closely positioned ribs
  • Emphysema

These conditions can make it more difficult to bounce sound waves to and from the heart.

St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute provides exceptional diagnostics for our heart and vascular patients. Our physicians use the latest technology to ensure an accurate diagnosis so we can provide you with the best course of treatment available.

What To Expect During A Transesophageal Echocardiogram

During an echocardiogram a transducer (a device that looks like a microphone) bounces harmless soundwaves off your heart showing the heart's size as well as the health of your heart's chambers and valves. Like the standard echocardiogram, most transesophageal echo tests take 10 to 30 minutes. During the procedure:

  • Your doctor will pace small pads (electrodes) on your chest to monitor your heartbeat
  • Oxygen will be provided through a tube worn on your noseYour doctor may deliver medications through an IV to help you relax during the procedure
  • Your doctor will numb the back of your mouth with a topical medicine in the form of a gel or spray
  • A flexible tube with a modified endoscope will be placed in your mouth and you will then be asked to swallow which will draw the tube into your esophagus
  • The images of your heart are stored on a computer or recorded on video so your doctor can review them later.

When the procedure is finished, your doctor will watch you to see that your heart rate and blood pressure are normal

After the procedure, you may feel a little sleepy until the sedative has worn off. You may also find that you have a sore throat or trouble swallowing. These side effects usually go away after a day or so. Otherwise, you can return to normal activity unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

Your doctor will discuss your test results with you during a future office visit. The test results help the doctor plan your treatment and any other tests that are needed. Be sure to keep follow-up appointments.

Preparing For A Transesophageal Cardiogram

Before your test:

  • Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your doctor
  • Mention any over-the-counter or prescription medications, herbs or supplements you're taking
  • Stop eating or drinking for at least 4 hours before the test
  • Allow extra time for checking in