Understanding Medical Problems

Understanding The Tee Imaging Test

If your doctor wants to produce a relatively clear image of your heart, then he may arrange for a specialized echocardiogram. One of these specialized tests is called a transesophageal echocardiogram. If you are unfamiliar with this type of imaging test, then keep reading to learn more about it and also how you can prepare for it.

What Is A Transesophageal Echocargiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram or a TEE is an imaging test that is similar to a traditional echo. Like the traditional type, the TEE uses ultrasound to produce a clear picture of the heart. However, while a general echo test produces images through the chest cavity, the TEE does so from within the esophagus. This completes a much clearer picture, since the transducer does not have to pass ultrasound waves through the bone and muscle tissue of the chest. Instead, the waves can pass through the esophageal wall and to the heart. 

The TEE is also different, because it takes an image from the rear and side of the heart, instead of the front. This is essential to clearly view the atrium that sits towards the upper and rear part of the organ. Also, the valves can be seen more clearly with this time of image. If your heart valves are damaged in some way, then the TEE can assist with the overall treatment plan, like in the case that a valve replacement is necessary.

How Do You Prepare For The Test?

Since a thin tube will be passed down your esophagus, a sedative will be given to you. A mild sedative is all that is required, but you will need a ride home after the test since you will feel drowsy. Also, you may be asked not to eat anything for at least a few hours before the imaging test, due to the administration of the sedative.

Your physician may ask you to stay away from alcohol too, because this can cause inflammation along the esophagus and the imaging test may not be able to be completed. 

The TEE test is typically quite quick and it is painless, so there is not a great deal of preparation that is required. While this is true, you may need to pay attention to signs of bleeding after the test is completed. You may also have a sore throat for a few days.

If you need a TEE exam, then speak with your physician about the imaging test, so you are prepared beforehand. Contact a provider, such as at Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology, for more help.