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The Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE)

Minimally invasive, gentle


Time to read: 2 Min.
Published in: Diagnostics at 27/10/2021

The ultrasound examination of the heart (TEE) through the gullet, the oesophagus is actually a gastroscopy. Under local anaesthesia or minor anaesthesia, the ultrasound probe is inserted into the oesophagus. Since the oesophagus runs directly behind the heart, the individual structures of the heart can be visualised much better than in the examination through the chest wall (TTE). A frequent question is the search for clots in the heart or in the case of heart or heart valve defects. The aorta can also be assessed.

How Does a Transoesophageal Examination Work?

For the examination, you will usually be given a short sedation (propofol) or a local anesthetic of the throat. Subsequently, the ultrasound probe is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus. The examination allows the heart to be viewed from inside the chest. Once the probe is placed, they will feel nothing more than a slight sensation of pressure in the throat or chest area. The examination is performed in the left-sided position and takes about 15-20 minutes. You will be able to breathe normally throughout the examination. Transesophageal echocardiography does not cause any pain. During the examination, you will be under the constant care of at least two medical professionals - one of whom is always a medical practice assistant.

What Preparations are Necessary for a TEE?

For transesophageal echocardiography, the upper digestive tract must be free of food residues. Therefore, you should be fasting on the day of the examination. You should not consume any liquids or food until at least 6 hours before the examination. The necessary intake of medication with a small sip of water is permitted. If you suffer from diabetes, please discuss the more detailed preparations with us in advance.

What should I do after the Examination?

After receiving sedative medication, you should not drive a vehicle or operate machinery the same day after the examination. You should also not sign any legal documents. Do not eat or drink until the numbness in your throat has completely disappeared. If you experience abdominal pain or any other disturbance of well-being (e.g. dizziness, nausea, vomiting) after the examination, inform us immediately.

What Risks are Associated with this Examination?

Although transoesophageal echocardiography is a low-complication method and is performed in our Heart Center in Zurich. Complications can occur in very rare cases, as:

  • Very rare: injuries to the oesophagus in the presence of existing changes (oesophageal varices, diverticula, etc.
  • Very rarely: bleeding or bleeding tendency when taking blood-thinning medication
  • Extremely rare: hypersensitivity reactions to the sedation agent used

Frequently Asked Questions about the TEE

In any case, you should remain sober for six hours before the examination and not drive a car or motorbike yourself on the day of the examination. More about the TEE.

This examination, also called "Transoesophageal Echocardiography or TEE", is used when the usual Echocardiographic Examination (TTE) does not allow sufficiently accurate images or diagnosis. A swallow echo provides very accurate imaging of the heart and aorta because the oesophagus, into which the imaging ultrasound probe is inserted, passes just behind the heart. This allows many heart conditions to be detected, including aortic aneurysm, blood clots in the left atrium, aortic valve or mitral valve defects. It can also be used to check for valve replacements.

This examination, also called "Transoesophageal Echocardiography or TEE", itself only takes about 10-15 minutes.

The "TEE" or "Transoesophageal Echocardiography", is a relatively harmless, painless ultrasound examination. Only very rarely do complications with the oesophagus, breathing or cardiovascular disorders occur. Before the examination, you will be fully informed by our doctor about the procedure and the risks. 

Our Dr. Franzen has successfully performed this examination on several thousand patients over the last 25 years. He is so experienced that the examination can be performed gently and, if desired, without a short anaesthetic (propofol) on an outpatient basis.

Read more about the TEE here too.

Cardiology in Zurich - We are at Your Disposal

Dr. med. Olaf Franzen

Hamburg, London, Copenhagen, Hong-Kong, Singapore and Zurich - as a specialist in interventional cardiology and pioneer of minimally invasive heart valve therapy, Dr. med. Olaf Franzen has been performing cather-based interventions on the heart for more than 20 years in major medical centres around the world. He is available for the entire spectrum of outpatient / inpatient diagnostics and treatment. Languages: German, English, Danish

Dr. med. Gabriela Mathieu

The experienced cardiologist Dr. med. Gabriela Mathieu is available for conventional outpatient initial cardiological assessment, diagnostics and treatment. In addition, she pursues a holistic approach to treatment and is happy to provide support to patients who wish to examine or pursue alternative treatment options. Languages: German, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Waltenberger

As a professor of internal medicine, cardiology and angiology as well as an interventional cardiologist, Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Waltenberger has 30 years of expertise in research and practice with international recognition. He is available for the entire spectrum of outpatient / inpatient diagnostics and treatment. Languages: German, English, Dutch.

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