What We Do

A Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that takes pictures of the heart with the use of a flexible probe placed inside your esophagus. The heart is near the esophagus, and an ultrasound allows doctors to get very clear pictures of parts of the heart that are not well seen by a regular echocardiogram taken from outside your chest.

The pictures are displayed on the ultrasound monitor and are recorded on a disk. The TEE is performed and interpreted by a cardiologist, and it's valuable in checking various conditions, such as how bad disease may have affected heart valves and whether they need to be surgically repaired, or if there are blood clots or masses within the heart.​

 Materials and Resources to Help You

The Patient & Family Education Program at UHN offers valuable resources to help you understand your condition.

Resources from the Patient & Family Education Program

Visit our Health Information section to find dedicated resources to help you understand your condition. Find the information you're looking for.​

 Your Procedure

How to Prepare

You must have NOTHING to eat or drink from midnight the night before your test. Medications can be taken with a sip of water unless your doctor tells you not to.

A friend or family member is required to be present in the lab during the test. You will be sedated during this procedure. The friend or family member will be instructed on how to care for you after the exam and be required to drive and/or accompany you home. They can also help you gather information, take notes and ask questions.

Bring with you to your appointment your:

  • Health card (OHIP card). If you do not have an OHIP card, please bring another form of government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license, passport, or other provincial health card). Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.

Checking In

When you arrive at the Echocardiography Labcheck in at the reception desk. The receptionist will ask you:

  • For your Health card (OHIP card)
  • Your name, address and birth date
  • Your family doctor and next of kin information

Before the Transesophageal Echocardiogram

You will be given a name band to wear. You will be given a brief list of questions to answer regarding your medical history and medications.

A sonographer will escort you to a changing room where you will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up off. A patient gown will be provided. Please leave your valuables with the person who has come with you for the test. You will be taken into the procedure room.

During and After the Transesophageal Echocardiogram

During the test, the sonographer may perform a transthoracic echocardiogram. The anesthesia assistant will review your medical history with you and determine whether you need a sedative during the test. The cardiologist will then explain the procedure and its risks – feel free to ask questions before you sign the consent form.

Monitors will be attached to you to record your heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure and blood oxygen level during the test. A needle will be inserted into an arm vein to give you medications to help you relax. Then you'll be given a small amount of oxygen. You'll also be asked to remove any dentures.

A local anesthetic (Xylocaine) will be sprayed to the back of your throat to numb it, and you'll be given a liquid form of Xylocaine to gargle. Then we'll need you to lie on your left side. The doctor will slowly pass the probe through your mouth and into the esophagus. You may feel some pressure and discomfort as the probe is being directed into position, but it's generally not painful. Once the probe is in position, the doctor will take pictures of your heart. The sonographer will assist in operating the ultrasound machine.

After the test, you'll stay in the lab until you recover from the sedative. The anesthesia assistant will review with you the instructions for after your test, and you'll get a written copy of them before you go home.

Your throat will still be frozen/numb so you should have nothing to eat or drink for at least 2 hours afterwards. Then you should start by slowly taking sips of the liquid. Make sure that you feel the liquid going down your throat properly. If you don't feel the liquid, wait half an hour and try again.

Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for the remainder of the day. Arrange in advance for someone to take you home.

The Results of Your Transesophageal Echocardiogram

The report will be sent to the doctor who requested the TEE and he/she will discuss the results with you at a later time.

How Long Will Your Appointment Be?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) usually takes 2 to 3 hours.

We do everything that we can to stay on time. Unfortunately, your appointment may be delayed by unforeseen circumstances. We recommend that you come prepared for delays.​​​

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