Diagnosis & Testing
What Happens During the Transesophageal Echocardiogram?
Before the transesophageal echocardiogram, you will be asked to remove dentures. An intravenous line (IV) will be inserted into a vein in your arm or hand so that medications can be delivered during the test.
A technician will gently rub three small areas on your chest and place electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on these areas. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (ECG or EKG) that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your blood pressure during the test. A small clip, attached to a pulse oximeter, will be placed on your finger to monitor the oxygen level of your blood during the test.
A mild sedative (medicine to help you relax) will be given through your IV. Because of the sedative, you may not be entirely awake for the test.
A dental suction tip will be placed into your mouth to remove any secretions. A thin, lubricated endoscope (viewing instrument) will be inserted into your mouth, down your throat, and into your esophagus. This won’t affect breathing. You may be asked to swallow at certain times to help pass the endoscope. This part of the test lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable. Once the endoscope is positioned, pictures of the heart are obtained at various angles. You will not feel this part of the test.
When completed, the tube is withdrawn. You will be monitored for about 20-30 minutes after the test, which takes about 10-30 minutes to perform.
Someone will need to drive you home after the test. You should not eat or drink until the anesthetic spray wears off or until the numbness in your throat is gone — about an hour after the test. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.
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