Transesophageal Echocardiography
all information

Transesophageal Echocardiography

Pronounced: Trans-e-sohf-ah-GE-al Eck-o-car-de-O-gra-fee

En Español (Spanish Version)


Transesophageal echocardiography is an imaging procedure . Sound waves are passed from an ultrasound probe in the esophagus (tube from mouth to stomach) to provide clearer images of the heart

Parts of the Body Involved

  • Throat
  • Esophagus
  • Heart

Reasons for Procedure

Transesophageal echocardiography is performed to detect abnormalities in the heart. This may include enlarged heart, thickening of the heart walls, abnormal valve function, infection, blood clots, and more.

Abnormal Heart Walls

Heart wall disease

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

You may be at higher risk for complications if you have known esophageal problems, esophageal obstruction, or have received radiation therapy to the esophagus.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Typically, you will be asked not to consume any alcohol for several days before the procedure because it may interfere with the type of sedative used. It is sometimes also required that you do not eat or drink anything a few hours before the procedure.


A mild sedative is administered to help you relax, but you remain awake throughout the procedure. A topical anesthetic may also be applied to the back of the throat.

Description of the Procedure

You will be asked to lie on your side in a hospital gown. A transducer, a device that emits sound waves, is slid down the throat and into the esophagus until it is near the heart. The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off of a section of the heart. These projected sound waves are translated into images of the heart.

After Procedure

Transesophageal echocardiography is an outpatient procedure, which means a hospital stay is not required. You will need someone to drive you home following the procedure.

How Long Will It Take?

The process takes between 30-60 minutes.

Will It Hurt?

There is mild discomfort during the procedure, which usually results in a sore throat.

Possible Complications

Reactions to the anesthetic are possible, as are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Esophageal bleeding
  • Perforation or tearing of the pharynx (throat) or esophagus

Average Hospital Stay

This is an outpatient procedure.

Postoperative Care

The throat may be sore for a few days following the procedure. To prevent inhaling food or drink into the lungs, you are asked not to eat or drink until the numbness in the back of the throat has subsided.


Prognosis depends on the findings of the echocardiogram.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

  • The sore throat does not subside or begins to worsen
  • Pain in the throat or chest develops


Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Stanford University Medical Center


British Columbia Ministry of Health

Mount Sinai Hospital


Niedermeyer J, Daniel WG. Value of transesophageal echocardiography in diagnosis of diseases of native heart valves. Herz . 1993;18(6):329-340.

Pascoe RD, Oh JK, Warnes CA, Danielson GK, Tajik AJ, Seward JB. Diagnosis of sinus venosus atrial septal defect With transesophageal echocardiography. Circulation . 1996;94:1049-1055.

Last reviewed March 2008 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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