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- Transesophageal echo -
everything you need to know

Dr. Nicoletta Orphanou was trained in advanced transesophageal echo in perioperative and acute care, at the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, UK and now regularly performs these procedures in Cyprus. 

What is a transesophageal echo (TEE) ?

A transesophageal echo, also called a TEE, is a special kind of ultrasound that takes pictures of your heart. Unlike a regular ultrasound that glides on your chest, a TEE uses a thin tube placed down your throat (similar to gastroscopy) to get a closer look at your heart.

Since the esophagus is right next to your heart, the TEE can get much clearer images.

 

This helps doctors see things like:

  • Your heart valves 

  • Blood clots in your heart (especially before cardioversion from atrial fibrillation)

  • To check how well your heart works during or after surgeries like a bypass, valve replacement, or valve repair.

What are the risks of a transesophageal echo?

While TEE is a generally safe procedure, there are some potential downsides to be aware of. These mostly stem from inserting the probe through your mouth and esophagus.

  • Discomfort: You might experience gagging during the procedure due to the probe placement.

  • Throat irritation: It's common to have a sore throat for a day or two after the test.

  • Medication side effects: There's a slight chance of having an allergic reaction to the medications used for relaxation and numbing.

  • Minor bleeding: In rare cases, the esophagus may experience minor bleeding from the probe insertion.

How do I prepare for a TEE? 

  • You will be asked not to eat or drink for 4 - 6 hours before your exam and to take any prescribed medications with only a sip of water. 

  • You should also arrange to have someone drive you home after the exam in case you are feeling drowsy

What happens during the exam?

  • To make things easier, we'll use a numbing spray on the back of your throat before inserting the TEE probe.

  • To help you relax, we will administer a medication that will make you feel calmer before the procedure

  •  The TEE probe will be passed through your mouth and down your throat. You may be asked to swallow to help pass the probe.

  • Depending on each case this may take 20-40 minutes.

  • After the images are taken the probe will be removed from your throat.

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