Echocardiography is a diagnostic test that uses ultrasound, or high-frequency sound waves, to create images of the heart. A transducer, or modified microphone, turns electrical energy into sound waves, which bounce off tissues in the heart and are digitally recorded for later analysis.
In transesophageal echocardiography, a long, slender, flexible tube is inserted into the mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach. Transesophageal echocardiography produces a highly detailed image of the heart because there are no internal structures to obstruct the view, and is used to detect and assess the following:
- Blood clots;
- Congenital abnormalities;
- Disease of the aorta;
- Heart infection; and
- Heart valve malfunctions.
The physician will give the patient specific pre-test directions to follow, but patients are often given common guidelines, such as:
- Patients receiving transesophageal echocardiography should not eat after midnight the night before the test, but should take any medications as usual unless otherwise directed.
Transesophageal echocardiography has a small risk of throat irritation or aspiration whereby contents from the stomach irritate the airways
WHAT TO EXPECT
For transesophageal echocardiography, a sedative will be administered. For a transesophageal echocardiogram, the patient swallows a long, slender, flexible tube that has an ultrasound-imaging device near its tip. The physician directs the tube from the mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach. Throughout the test, an electrocardiogram, or ECG, which record’s the heart’s electrical activity, is performed to monitor the heartbeat and blood pressure is monitored.
The procedure lasts approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
For transesophageal echocardiography, patients should observe the following restrictions:
- Avoid driving for 24 hours if a sedative was administered; and
- Avoid eating and drinking, especially hot foods and liquids, for at least 2 hours after the test.