Kenneth Shelton, MD, is a critical care physician and cardiothoracic anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and the medical director of the Mass General Corrigan Minehan Heart Center Intensive Care Unit.
Explore This Procedure
About the Test
A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a procedure performed to evaluate your heart and the surrounding structures. The esophagus lies directly behind the heart, allowing for better quality images generally than those obtained from an echocardiogram from the chest wall. It is especially valuable in patients with valve replacements, history of a stroke, or when adequate images cannot be obtained from the chest wall.
To perform a TEE, a small flexible tube containing a small transducer is passed into the esophagus. Prior to the test, the back of your throat will be numbed first with a medication you will swallow, followed by another medication that will be sprayed into your mouth. You will then be given medication intravenously for sedation. All of this is done to make the procedure more comfortable for you.
Before the Test
You are asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the test. The morning of the test, you may take your medications with small sips of water.
During the Test
When you arrive for the test, the doctor will explain the procedure to you and will discuss any questions you may have. An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm for the sedatives that will be given to you during the procedure. As stated before, your throat will be numbed with medication to make the procedure more comfortable. During the procedure, you will be monitored closely while the ultrasound images are obtained. The test lasts approximately 45 minutes.
Following the Test
After the procedure, you will remain in the procedure room until you are fully awake. You may be drowsy for a period of time following the procedure. You may or may not have a sore throat. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for two hours after the procedure, until the numbing wears off. After two hours, you may eat soft foods, but avoid hot liquids. We ask that a family member or friend accompany you so that he/she can drive you home. You are not to drive yourself due to the sedative medications. We recommend that you not drive or perform any physically strenuous activities for the remainder of the day.
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