Transthoracic / Transesophageal Echocardiogram



An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. The test provides images of the heart so that we can assess the overall size and function of the heart and the heart valves. In order to perform the test, patients will have to remove the upper layer of their clothing. This is so that the sonographer or Cardiologist can place the imaging probe at different sites on your chest to image the heart. The test takes around 40 minutes to complete.
For your comfort, a disposable gown will be provided for you to wear during the test.
A medical professional performing an echocardiogram for an elderly patient.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TOE)

A Transesophageal Echocardiogram is a specialized cardiac ultrasound that is used to assess the heart's structure and function.
A Transesophageal Echocardiogram is a diagnostic test used to view the structures of the beating heart. In this procedure, a transducer is passed through the mouth and into the esophagus, which lies behind the heart. The transducer then sends images of the heart to a monitor. This imaging process is called an echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to create moving pictures of the structures of the heart such as the chambers and valves. It can also evaluate blood flow and pressures within the heart with a special technique called Doppler Echocardiography.

Procedure Information

How do I prepare for TOE?

Check with your doctor. He or she may ask you not to have alcoholic drinks for a few days before the test, and not to eat or drink anything for at least 4 to 6 hours before TOE. Because you receive a sedative to help you stay calm, someone should drive you home after the test.

What happens during TOE?

Specially trained cardiologists perform TOE. It’s usually done in a hospital or a clinic and lasts 30 to 60 minutes.

  • A technician sprays your throat with a medicine to numb it and suppress the gag reflex. You’ll lie on a table.
  • A nurse puts an IV (intravenous line) in your arm and gives you a mild sedative (medicine) to help you stay calm.
  • The technician then places small metal disks (electrodes) on your chest. He or she attaches the electrodes by wires to a machine that will record your electrocardiogram to track your heartbeat.
  • The doctor then gently guides a thin, flexible tube (probe) through your mouth and down your throat, and asks you to swallow as it goes down.
  • A transducer on the end of the probe sends sound waves to your heart and collects the echoes that bounce back. These echoes become pictures that show up on a video screen. This part of the test takes 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the doctor is finished taking pictures, the probe, IV, and electrodes are removed and nurses watch you until you are fully awake. Then you can usually get up, get dressed, and leave the clinic or hospital.

What happens after TOE?

Your throat may be numb for a short time. Don’t eat or drink anything until the numb feeling goes away — you could choke.

  • You may have a little trouble swallowing right after the test, but this will go away within a few hours.
  • It’s common to have a sore throat for a day or two after the test.
  • Because of the sedative you get during the procedure, don’t drink alcohol for a day or two.

What should I watch for?

If your sore throat gets worse or doesn’t go away after a few days, call your doctor.

Risks / Benefits

What risks are involved in a Transesophageal Echocardiogram Procedure?

Transesophageal Echocardiograms are performed routinely. It is a common and very low-risk procedure. However, should a complication arise, it will be dealt with at once.

-Senior Consultant Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist

-Chief, Cardiac Pacing and Arrhythmia Services

-Department of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology

-Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai.

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