A test that produces high resolution images of the heart. TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make detailed pictures of your heart including, the valves, chambers and other structures that are difficult to visualize with standard echo. Unlike a standard echo, the echo transducer that produces the sound waves for the TEE is attached to a thin tube that passes through your mouth, down your throat into your esophagus. Doctors often use TEE when they need more detail than the standard echo.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This procedure is done in the hospital and lasts roughly 30 to 60 minutes. A tech will spray your throat with numbing medicine while a nurse places an IV into your arm and gives you a mild sedative. The technician will also attach electrodes that will monitor your heartbeat during the procedure. The doctor will then gently guide a thin, flexible tube through your mouth and down your throat, asking you to swallow. The transducer on the end of the probe sends sound waves to your heart and collects the echoes that bounce back. These show up as images on a video screen. Following the procedure, the tube, IV and electrodes will be removed and you will be allowed to go home after the anesthesia wears off. Plan to have someone drive you home after this test.