What is a transesophageal echocardiography?
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is a test that produces pictures of your heart. TEE also uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of your heart and the arteries that lead to and from it, but unlike a standard echocardiogram, the echo transducer that produces the sound waves for TEE is attached to a thin tube that passes through your mouth, down your throat and into your esophagus. Detailed images of the heart structures and valves can be obtained through this method because the esophagus is so close to the upper chambers of the heart.
What is the purpose of TEE?
Doctors use TEE to find problems in your heart’s structure and function. TEE can give crisper pictures of the upper chambers of the heart, and the valves between the upper and lower chambers of the heart than a standard echocardiogram.
Doctors will also use TEE for patients who have a thick chest wall, are obese, have bandages on their chest, or are using a ventilator.
The detailed pictures provided by TEE can help doctors see:
- The size of your heart.
- How well the heart is pumping.
- If there is abnormal tissue around the heart valves that could indicate bacterial, viral or fungal infections, or cancer.
- If blood is leaking backward through heart valves (regurgitation) or if valves are narrowed or blocked (stenosis).
- If blood clots are in the chambers of your heart.
TEE is often used to provide information during surgery to repair heart valves, a tear in the aorta or congenital heart lesions.
Learn more about Transesophageal Echocardiography.