Transesophageal Echocardiography

How to Say It: Trans-e-sohf-ah-GE-al Eck-o-car-de-O-gra-fee


Echocardiography uses sound waves to make pictures of the heart. In transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), the ultrasound probe is passed down the throat to the food pipe. The food pipe is close to the heart.

Reasons for Procedure

This test is done to look for problems of the heart, such as:

  • Enlarged heart
  • Thickening of the heart walls
  • Heart valve problems
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Other conditions

Abnormal Heart Walls

Heart wall disease
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over problems that could happen such as:

  • Problems breathing
  • Bleeding or damage to the mouth, throat, or esophagus

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The doctor may talk to you about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Fasting before the procedure, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure


You will be given medicine to make you sleepy. Throat spray will numb your throat.

Description of the Procedure

You will on your side lie on a table. Slippery material will be applied to a probe. The probe will be slid down the throat into the food pipe until it is near the heart. The probe will create images of the heart. When the imaging is done, the probe will be taken out.

How Long Will It Take?

15 to 30 minutes

Will It Hurt?

There may be some mild discomfort during the procedure. Your throat may be sore for a few days.

Post-procedure Care

Food and drink will need to be avoided until the throat numbness wears off.

The doctor will discuss the results of the test with you.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • A sore throat that lasts or gets worse
  • Pain in the throat or chest
  • Problems breathing

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Heart Association
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America


Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Mount Sinai Hospital


General ultrasound. Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America website Radiology Info website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Parker BK, Salerno A, et al. The use of transesophageal echocardiography during cardiac arrest resuscitation: a literature review. J Ultrasound Med. 2019;(5):1141-1151.
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). American Heart Association website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). EBSCO DynaMed wesbite. Available at: September 9, 2021.
Transesophageal echocardiogram. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/9/2021

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