What is the purpose of a transesophageal echocardiogram?
If you’ve ever been told that you need a transesophageal echocardiogram (commonly known as TEE), chances are, your first reaction was something along the lines of, “huh?” Don’t worry; it’s normal to feel like you just stepped into an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Let me hold your hand through this intimidating-sounding procedure and explain it all in plain English.
First things first: what is an echocardiogram?
Before we get into the specifics of TEE, let’s cover some basic terminology. An echocardiogram is just a fancy way of saying “an ultrasound picture of your heart.” We use high-frequency sound waves to generate images of your heart structures and how they’re working together in real-time – kind-of like peering inside with x-ray vision!
An echocardiogram can be performed in two ways:
– A transthoracic echo uses a probe placed directly on top of chest wall for imaging.
– A transesophageal echo involves passing an ultrasound probe down the throat and into esophagus for better visualization.
A transthoracic echo (“TTE” for short) is usually done on all patients who have any suspicion or symptoms concerning their cardiac function/structural issues. If more detailed information about inner cardiac structure required than TTE, then comes trans-esophageal route -(Do not confuse yourself with “TOE”; That stands for Total organic element).
For crying out loud…why do I Need one?!
Well now look at smarty-pants asking questions! So glad you asked – here are some common reasons why someone might require a TEE:
Suspected blood clot formation in that ol’ ticker
You may experience irregular heartbeat sensations which may lead doctors to investigate whether there’s a blood clot in the heart. TEE, with its better imaging potential, can help confirm or exclude that possibility and determine if/how treatment for it may be necessary.
Assessing damage or infection to your valves
With TTE , due to upper chest bony cage limiting the quality of views obtained around back of heart towards mitral valve, getting an accurate image of valve abnormalities can be tricky sometimes; but don’t panic! Physicians use TEE technique (instead!) whenever more details is required for assessment.
Identifying sources of cardiac emboli
Emboli are a collections materials which travel within bloodstream to other locations in body where they cause blockages – imagine a tiny peace plant blocking up small vessel parts. Sounds relaxing – right? Nope! It isn’t fun & games because prolonged obstruction can imitate serious consequences like stroke in some cases. Sometimes physicians have suspicion about wether you might have such an embolus come from your heart itself; this procedure could offer resolution by insightful visualisation!
What should I Expect During my Transesophageal Echocardiogram?
Feel free to sit down while we guide through what will happen during TEE procedure:
- First off, You’ll usually receive sedation via IV (so kindly clear out your calendar buddy)
- Next up: The physician numbs area at back of throat using topical anaesthesia along with local spray.
Lastly!!!…DON’T freak out when doctors makes you swallow bendy camera attached thin wand thereafter spraying lube over it so that they carefully navigate passageways from mouth till finding opening into esophagus as microphone/webcams look on intently! Now ,some funky noises might sound as waves capture colourful inter eco-cardiac-surfaces going all “Whoa” in between flashing monitors .Then just after few minutes hours later you droopily wake-up scratching head & asking yourself “did i just black-out?!” in good faith because it did seem that calming, Okay buddy there’s no need to panic literally 5 minutes have passed!
Any Risk or Special Precautions I Should take?
As with any medical test or procedure, TEE can carry some risk. Potential side effects include sore throat and mild discomfort during the insertion of the probe (something most patients report to feel over soon after). One very rare potential complication is a tear in your esophagus from passage of the camera wand; if you experience any unusual pain below breast bone area & above belly overall for some reason (not related GI tract), make sure you alert your doctor in trippy dash.
You may be asked not eat or drink anything for several hours prior to TEE, since an empty stomach makes it less likely that food will get swallowed up into instrument path which seems logical. In addition, we’ll also ask about all medication details you are taking so we could decide whether continue these as usual when undergoing examination .
Lastly , but certainly NOT least ; Please arrive comfortable clothing specifically avoiding tight pants when coming on date night with this testing technique.
The Bottom Line
I know that medical procedures can often sound scary and abstract until they’re broken down into understandable chunks – I am here happy yet flattered if article ie helping ease those concerns whatsoever! While having a transesophageal echocardiogram might seem daunting at first glance, remember that it’s ultimately done with one goal in mind: providing physicians better view-around / interpretation-of various cardiac conditions by obtaining deeper anatomical insights…voice introducing itself-“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” So channel Captain Kirk as much as possible while going through you Trans-esophageal journey – Engage!!