Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) | MedStar Health

An ultrasound through your esophagus that shows detailed images of your heart

Because the esophagus is located very close to the heart, images taken from the esophagus (a transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE) can give doctors a good view of your heart’s structure, the blood flow, and whether there are any blood clots. A TEE creates pictures of your heart chambers and valves using high-frequency sound waves created by an ultrasound probe.

Your doctor may recommend TEE if he or she needs more detailed images than a traditional echocardiogram can provide. TEE also may be used during surgery.

Our cardiac imaging program is one of the most advanced in the region, and we’re able to perform 3-D interventional echocardiography, a form of TEE that gives our doctors better views of the heart. Our Echocardiography Core Lab is part of our Cardiovascular Core Laboratories, which is internationally recognized for its expertise. We review hundreds of tests each month from patients throughout the region, which lets us quickly detect problems for the most accurate diagnosis and treatment.

What to expect during a transesophageal echocardiogram

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything before the test. If you are taking medications, ask your doctor if you should take them the day of the test.

You will wear a hospital gown, and an IV will be inserted into your hand or arm to provide a mild sedation. During the test, you will lie on your left side. You will be connected to an electrocardiogram with small disks on your chest to monitor your heart’s electrical activity during the test. The back of your throat will be sprayed with a numbing spray. Your doctor may recommend that you be given oxygen through nasal tubes.

The ultrasound probe is attached to a long, flexible tube that your doctor will guide down your esophagus. You may be asked to swallow. After the probe is positioned correctly, the ultrasound will be used to take images of your heart. After the images have been taken, the probe will be removed from your esophagus, and you will be taken to the recovery area.

The test typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes. After the procedure, you will be monitored until the sedation wears off, which typically takes several hours. You will need to have someone drive you home after the test, and you shouldn’t eat or drink anything until the numbness has gone away to avoid choking. You will likely have a sore throat for a day or two.


  • Aortic dissection treatment: Treating an aortic dissection can include medication, minimally invasive procedures, or open surgery.

  • Aortic valve repair and replacement: Aortic valve repair and replacement procedures include minimally invasive and traditional surgery as well as several types of replacement material.

  • Balloon aortic valvuloplasty: Aortic valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to open the aortic valve inside your heart.

  • Congenital heart disease treatments: Treatments for congenital heart conditions range from atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale closures to cardiac ablations and heart valve replacements to heart transplants.

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is used to oxygenate blood when you heart needs to rest or is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood through your body.

  • Heart surgery: Heart surgery is an option to treat many heart conditions. You may need heart surgery either as a lifesaving procedure or when other treatments haven’t worked.

  • Lead extraction: If the wire that delivers electrical shocks from a pacemaker or ICD is no longer working correctly, your doctor will need to remove it.

  • Patent foramen ovale and atrial septal defects treatments: Treatments for patent foramen ovales (PFO) and atrial septal defects (ASD) such as medication, closure devices, and surgery, vary based on your symptoms and risk factors.

  • Transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement: Transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement is a non-surgical procedure to replace a damaged tricuspid valve.

  • Tricuspid valve surgery: Tricuspid valve surgery includes repair or replacement of a damaged valve using traditional or minimally invasive methods.

  • Valve disease treatments: Valve disease treatments include monitoring, medication, or surgery to repair or replace a damaged valve.

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Dr Brian Case listens to the heart of a patient during an office visit at MedStar Health. Both people are wearing masks.

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