Transesophageal Echocardiography

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The transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) test takes a picture of the heart and blood vessels. It makes a picture by using sound waves. This is called ultrasound. The TEE is done for people with heart trouble. This test is done to see if there is any  heart valve disease, tumors, and blood clots in the heart. These heart conditions can be serious, so this test helps to find out the problem before someone’s heart fails. Also, swelling in the blood vessels can be seen with this test.
During the transesophageal echocardiogram, a tube with a light on it is passed down the mouth. It goes through the esophagus or food pipe. This is where it gets its name. The prefix (trans) means through. After going through the esophagus, the tube is passed down toward the back side of the heart. This is how the doctor can see the heart and blood vessels. Sound waves are bounced off of the heart and turned into pictures. These pictures can be seen on a screen as the doctor is doing the test.
The patient has some instructions of some things that are done to prepare for the test. These instructions are based on evidence based practice. The instructions include: do not eat or drink anything six hours before the test starts. Sometimes the doctor says you can take your medicine with a tiny sip of water if it is an important medicine like a blood pressure medicine. The doctor will explain the test to you and a form will have to be signed giving the doctor permission to do the test. False teeth have to be taken out before the test starts.
The test will only take about 15 minutes. During the test, you will have to get on the bed and lie on the left side. The blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels will be monitored on a machine. A medication will be given by an IV to help you to be relaxed. You will still be able to hear the doctor and nurses telling you what to do. They will tell you to swallow when the tube is passed in the back of your mouth. You may feel like you have to gag. You should not feel any pain, but maybe a little uncomfortable. The back of the throat will be sprayed with a cold spray to numb it up. A mouth guard will be put in the mouth to protect the teeth when the tube is put in the mouth.
The test is pretty safe, but sometimes patients develop complications. This is why a consent must be signed before having the test done. You may develop a sore throat from the tube going down the throat. If the back of the throat is irritated during the test, it may swell causing a choking sensation. Sometimes, there is a little bleeding from the throat after the procedure if the throat is irritated. You should call the doctor for choking, severe throat pain or bleeding from the throat.
After the test, you will be told to not eat or drink for one hour. You will also be told that you can expect to have a mild sore throat up to 24 hours after the test. If you would like, use sore throat lozenges to make the throat feel better. You will need to stay in bed until the sedative wears off. This usually takes about 1 hour after the test is over. Because you might be sleepy, someone will have to drive you home after the test. Normally, everything goes good and the patient gets back to normal very fast.

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