A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a minimally-invasive type of diagnostic ultrasound that is sometimes used by Hudson County heart specialists to get a clearer image of the heart and the arteries that lead to it and from it. A transesophageal echocardiogram is considered an invasive procedure because the transducer that produces the ultrasound waves is enclosed in a thin tube called an endoscope, which is then inserted into the mouth, down your throat, and into the upper part of the esophagus, so that it can be positioned directly behind the heart. This allows for clearer and more detailed images, because there is no interference from the ribs and lungs.
The TEE procedure is performed in a hospital by a Hudson County cardiologist, with the patient under conscious sedation, and takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to complete, after which you can return home. There is very little risk from the procedure, because you will receive medications to calm you and numb your throat. Some patients experience a minor sore throat for a day or two after the test.
TEE is used by cardiologists when they need more detail than is provided by standard echocardiogram images, especially of the upper chambers of the heart and the valves that connect them to the lower chambers. TEE can be useful when diagnosing many types of heart disease, and is often requested when the doctor suspects valvular heart issues (such as mitral valve regurgitation or aortic stenosis). TEE may be recommended for patients being treated for atrial fibrillation with electrical cardioversion, and can also be combined with Doppler and Duplex color ultrasound to evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.
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