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Diagnostic Testing
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Cardiac Testing

What is the test?

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) utilizes ultrasound, the same technology used to image developing babies in utero, to examine and evaluate the heart. A cardiologist may recommend TEE for patients with suspected heart problems that can't be visualized well with standard echocardiography. In contrast to conventional ultrasound imaging of the heart, which transmits ultrasound from the outside of the chest wall, TEE uses a miniaturized transducer probe which is placed inside the esophagus (the "swallowing tube") and the stomach. TEEs, which are performed at Cayuga Medial Center in the Cardiac Services Department, require about two hours from beginning to end, including preparation and recovery.

How do I prepare?

You should refrain from eating and drinking anything after midnight on the night before the exam. You may take your regular medications with a small sip of water. Since you will be under mild sedation during the exam, bring a friend or family member with you to review the test results and discharge instructions, and to drive you home after the exam.

What can I expect during the test?

Give yourself 15 minutes to check in at Outpatient Registration. Once you arrive in the testing area, a nurse will take your health history and blood pressure, and the cardiologist will answer any questions you have about the exam. You will be asked to remove any dentures or oral prostheses. The cardiologist may prescribe a “throat prep” that entails gargling with a medicine that numbs your throat, and you will receive an intravenous sedative to help you relax. The transducer is mounted on a thin, flexible tube which the cardiologist will pass through your mouth and into the esophagus and, if necessary, into the stomach. If you have your own natural teeth, a bite block will be used; this is a hard plastic ring with a foam cushion around it to protect your teeth and the scope. Some people experience a gagging sensation but this diminishes quickly. During the procedure, ultrasound images of the heart and valves are displayed on a monitor and recorded on videotape.

After the test?

After your exam, you will recover in the same room in which your procedure was performed. When you are fully awake, your companion should drive you home, as it will be unsafe for you to operate a car for the next few hours. You may resume eating as soon as you regain sensation in your throat.

How and when will I get my test results?

You will receive your test results at the conclusion of the test. Your cardiologist will review them with you and the companion or designated driver who accompanied you. The test results are also sent to your referring physician within 48 hours.

Where is the test performed?

TEEs are performed in the Cardiac Services Department at Cayuga Medical Center, 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96, in Ithaca.

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