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Echocardiogram, Transesophageal

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KEY POINTS

  • A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) and a computer to look at your child’s beating heart. TEE is used to diagnose infections in the heart valves, blood clots in the heart, or holes and tears in or near your child’s heart.
  • For this test, a tiny probe called a transducer is attached to a flexible lighted tube and carefully placed through your child’s mouth into the esophagus and down behind your child’s heart.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is a transesophageal echocardiogram?

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) and a computer to look at your child’s beating heart. For this test, a tiny probe called a transducer is attached to a flexible lighted tube and carefully placed through your child’s mouth into the esophagus and down behind your child’s heart. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. The probe and computer use sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart valves, chambers, blood vessels, and the heart muscle itself.

When is it used?

TEE is used to see parts of the heart that cannot be seen with a transducer placed on the outside of the chest. Because the probe is much nearer your child’s heart when it is inside, the TEE gives very clear pictures.

TEE may be used to:

  • Assess heart problems that your child was born with
  • Diagnose infections of the heart valves
  • Check for small blood clots in the heart
  • Find small holes in your child’s heart that allow blood to pass between two chambers of the heart

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • Your child may or may not need to take her regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that your child takes. Some products may increase the risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Your child’s provider will tell you when your child needs to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your child’s provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

The TEE may be done in a provider's office or at the hospital. Your child’s heartbeat and breathing will be checked. The back of your child’s throat will be sprayed with local anesthetic to make her throat numb and keep her from gagging. Your child will be given medicines that make her feel relaxed, but she may stay awake during the test if she is older. The healthcare provider will then pass the probe down your child’s esophagus.

The procedure may be as short as a few minutes or last for a half hour or longer. The ultrasound waves from the probe are recorded for later review by your child’s healthcare provider.

What happens after the procedure?

After the procedure, your child can go home as soon as she is awake and alert enough to be driven home. Your child’s provider may recommend that your child not eat or drink anything until her throat is no longer numb, which may be several hours.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this test include:

  • Your child may have problems with anesthesia.
  • Your child’s throat may be sore for a few hours afterward.
  • Your child may have a small tear in the esophagus when the probe is passed. If this happens, the tear may heal by itself or it may need stitches.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2018-07-25
Last reviewed: 2018-05-29
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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