Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is an invasive test that creates high–quality, moving images of the heart. The transducer is passed down the esophagus to get detailed pictures of the heart structures, valves, and blood vessels. TEE guides the positioning of catheters for diagnosis and provides information during surgery to repair the valves. Regurgitation of blood through the valves and valve stenosis can also be diagnosed by it.
TEE is performed to diagnose infective endocarditis, valve disease, pericardial disease, myocardial disease, cardiac masses, and congenital heart disease.
Read: Heart Diseases
How is Transesophageal Echocardiography performed? :
The back of the mouth and the throat are sprayed with an anesthetic to numb the region and suppress the gag reflex. The nurse then puts an intravenous line (IV) in the patient’s arm. A patient is asked to lie down on a table, and a mild sedative is administered to calm him.
Generally, the patient lies down on his left side. Electrodes are then attached to his chest to monitor his heart rate throughout the procedure. Following this, a thin, flexible tube is gently guided down his throat through the mouth. This tube is called a probe and has a transducer in its end. The patient may be asked to swallow the probe to propel it easily into the throat. Once the probe reaches the desired position, it sends sound waves to the heart. These waves are bounced back to the probe and get captured as images. 
The doctor views the pictures of the heart through the video screen. After getting the necessary images, the probe, IV, and electrodes are removed from the patient’s body. Occasionally, oxygen is administered through nasal tubes, but this depends on the patient’s condition. The room is often darkened to let the doctor see the images clearly on the echocardiogram monitor.
Know about other diagnostic tests to detect heart diseases.
Are there any risks involved in it? :
There are a few problems associated with Transesophageal Echocardiography. This includes having a sore throat for a day or two, nausea, and bad reactions to the medicine. These usually resolve on their own within a day.
FAQs: Transesophageal Echocardiography
What are preparations required from the patient?
The patient should refrain from consuming alcoholic drinks for a few days before the test. He is also asked to not eat or drink anything for 4 to 6 hours before the TEE. Dentures, oral prostheses, and other objects that interfere with the test must be removed before inserting the probe. He must also arrange for a ride home after the test as he may feel drowsy after the test.
How long does it take?
The test gets over in about 30 to 60 minutes.
Who performs it?
It is done by cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, or physicians as it is an invasive procedure.
How much does Transesophageal Echocardiography cost?
The cost of TEE is around Rs. 800 to Rs. 3 K.
When can I go home after the procedure?
The patient is allowed to go home once his vital signs stabilize and gag reflex returns. He can resume his normal activities and usual diet unless advised by the doctor.