Below is educational information for patients who may need a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

What is a TEE?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that takes detailed photos of your heart. A TEE uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of your heart structures, valves, and blood vessels. This test uses an ultrasound transducer that is attached to a thin tube that passes through your mouth, down your throat, and then into your esophagus.

Why is a TEE needed?

Sometimes your provider may need more detail than a standard echocardiogram (Echo) can give them, so they might suggest you have a TEE as well. This more in-depth test can help your provider see:

  • The size and thickness of your heart
  • How well your heart is pumping
  • Any abnormal tissues around your heart valves that might indicate an infection or tumor
  • If blood is leaking backward through your heart valves and/or any narrowing or blockages
  • If you have a blood clot in a chamber of your heart

A TEE may also be used during surgical procedures.

How is a TEE performed?

During a TEE you will be lying down on a stretcher or bed. Your provider will spray your throat with medicine to numb it and suppress your gag reflex. You will also be given a mild sedative to help you relax throughout the test. You will also have stickers and wires placed on your chest to record your heart rate and activity throughout the procedure. Your provider will then gently guide the thin, flexible tube through you mouth and down your throat, and will ask you to swallow as it goes down. This part of the test is usually 10–15 minutes.

What happens after a TEE?

Your throat might be numb for a short time after. Do no eat or drink anything until your throat is no longer numb. It is common to have a sore throat for 1–2 days after the procedure.

Download the TEE brochure.