Some times it is necessary to use a transesophageal echo probe (TEE). This is done from the inside of the esophagous (tube leading from the mouth to the stomach). Because the esophagous lies behind the heart , the TEE provides much clearer images of the heart than a standard echocardiogram which is performed outside the chest. These pictures are also displayed on a television screen and can be recorded on videotape. TEE is done for many reasons to include the following: to detect blood clots or masses in the heart, to assess the severity of some valve defects, to examine prosthetic (artificial) heart valves, to evaluate holes between heart chambers, to detect infection of heart valves, to diagnose a dissection (tear) in the lining of the aorta (the body's main artery).
During the test you will be asked to lie on your left side and your throat is sprayed with an anesthetic to numb it. A low dose of sedative is given through the IV line in your arm to help you relax. The doctor gently inserts the probe into your mouth. As you swallow the tube is slowly directed into the esophagous. Pictures are obtained and recorded from both the esophagous and stomach. After the procedure you recover in an observed area as the sedative wears off. You are then able to leave with an escort to drive you home.