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Transesophageal echocardiogram

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Title: Transesophageal echocardiogram  
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Subject: Medical imaging, Cardiac imaging, Cardiac PET, Computed tomography of the heart, Interventional cardiology
Collection: Cardiac Imaging, Medical Ultrasonography
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Transesophageal echocardiogram

Transesophageal echocardiogram
OPS-301 code 3-052
Transesophageal echocardiography diagram

A transesophageal echocardiogram, or TEE (TOE in the United Kingdom, reflecting the spelling transoesophageal), is an alternative way to perform an echocardiogram. A specialized probe containing an ultrasound transducer at its tip is passed into the patient's esophagus.[1] This allows image and Doppler evaluation which can be recorded.

It has several advantages and some disadvantages compared to a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE).


  • Indications 1
  • Advantages 2
  • Disadvantages 3
  • Process 4
  • Clinical uses 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


  • VIRTUAL TEE - online interactive learning resource
  • TEE online simulator, interactive

External links

  1. ^ Transesophageal Echocardiography at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  2. ^ a b  , which cites
    • Douglas, P. S.; Garcia, M. J.; Haines, D. E.; Lai, W. W.; Manning, W. J.; Patel, A. R.; Picard, M. H.; Polk, D. M.; Ragosta, M.; Ward, R. P.; Douglas, R. B.; Weiner, R. B.; Society for Cardiovascular Angiography Interventions; Society of Critical Care Medicine; American Society of Echocardiography; American Society of Nuclear Cardiology; Heart Failure Society of America; Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance; Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography; American Heart Association; Heart Rhythm Society (2011). "ACCF/ASE/AHA/ASNC/HFSA/HRS/SCAI/SCCM/SCCT/SCMR 2011 Appropriate Use Criteria for Echocardiography". Journal of the American College of Cardiology 57 (9): 1126–1166.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ramadan AS, Stefanidis C, Ngatchou W, LeMoine O, De Canniere D, Jansens JL (September 2007). "Esophageal stents for iatrogenic esophageal perforations during cardiac surgery". Ann. Thorac. Surg. 84 (3): 1034–6.  


In addition to use by cardiologists in outpatient and inpatient settings, TEE can be performed by a cardiac anesthesiologist to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients in the perioperative period. Most commonly used during open heart procedures, if the patient's status warrants it, TEE can be used in the setting of any operation. TEE is very useful during many cardiac surgical procedures (e.g., mitral valve repair). It is actually an essential monitoring tool during this procedure. It helps to detect and quantify the disease preoperatively as well as to assess the results of surgery immediately after the procedure. If the repair is found to be inadequate, showing significant residual regurgitation, the surgeon can decide whether to go back to CPB to try to correct the defect. Aortic dissections are another important condition where TEE is very helpful. TEE can also help the surgeon during the insertion of a catheter for retrograde cardioplegia.

Clinical uses

Before inserting the probe, mild to moderate sedation is induced in the patient to ease the discomfort and to decrease the gag reflex, thus making the ultrasound probe easier to pass into the esophagus. Mild or moderate sedation can be induced with medications such as midazolam (a benzodiazepine with sedating, amnesiac qualities), fentanyl (an opioid), or propofol (a sedative/general anesthetic, depending on dosage) . Usually a local anesthetic spray is used for the back of the throat, such a xylocaine and/or a jelly/lubricant anesthetic for the esophagus. Children are anesthetized. Adults are sometimes anesthetized as well. Unlike the TTE, the TEE is considered an invasive procedure and is thus performed by physicians in the U.S., not sonographers.


  • TEE requires a fasting patient. The patient must follow the ASA NPO guidelines (i.e. usually not eat anything for eight hours and not drink anything for two hours prior to the procedure.)
  • Requires a team of medical personnel
  • Takes longer to perform than TTE
  • May be uncomfortable for the patient
  • May require sedation or general anesthesia
  • There are some risks associated with the procedure (esophageal perforation[4]—1 in 10,000, and adverse reactions to the medication.)


In adults, several structures can be evaluated and imaged better with the TEE, including the aorta, pulmonary artery, valves of the heart, both atria, atrial septum, left atrial appendage, and coronary arteries. TEE has a very high sensitivity for locating a blood clot inside the left atrium.[3]

The advantage of TEE over TTE is usually clearer images, especially of structures that are difficult to view transthoracically (through the chest wall). The explanation for this is that the heart rests directly upon the esophagus leaving only millimeters that the ultrasound beam has to travel. This reduces the attenuation (weakening) of the ultrasound signal, generating a stronger return signal, ultimately enhancing image and Doppler quality. Comparatively, transthoracic ultrasound must first traverse skin, fat, ribs and lungs before reflecting off the heart and back to the probe before an image can be created. All these structures, along with the increased distance the beam must travel, weaken the ultrasound signal thus degrading the image and Doppler quality.



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