Transechophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
An echocardiogram is a test where ultrasonic (high frequency) sound waves are used to create moving images of the heart. The ultrasonic sound waves are produced by a transducer. They will travel to the heart and ‘echo’ back, which are then converted to moving images by a computer.
A transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE utilizes the insertion of a transducer attached to the tip of a thin tube, or endoscope into the esophagus to visualize the heart, as the esophagus provides optimal viewing. Use of a TEE study provides better and clearer images of the heart and its structures for this reason. TEE can be used as an effective alternative to TTE(Transthoracic Echocardiogram), if images produced by the TTE are obstructed or unclear due to obesity, bone structure or scarring on the chest wall and certain lung diseases. TEE can be especially useful when evaluating disease of the left upper chamber of the heart (aorta) or valve infection, as these areas are not as clearly visible in a TTE. It is also a useful in detection of abnormal masses inside or outside the heart, identification of clots and causes of strokes and ministrokes, and looking for aortic dissection in a critically ill patient when CT and MRI are not feasible diagnostic options.