Transoesophageal Echocardiography (TOE)

What is Transoesophageal
Echocardiography (TOE)?

Transoesophageal Echocardiography is the term given to an ultrasound examination of your heart via an endoscope (a long, flexible telescope) placed inside your oesophagus. The ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart.

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Why do I need a Transoesophageal Echocardiogram?

As the oesophagus runs right beside the back of the heart, very clear images of the inside of the heart can be obtained. Doctors often use this technique for cardiac valve assessment, but it can be used in any condition where the standard echocardiogram does not provide enough information. Transoesophageal echo is sometimes used to monitor heart function during heart surgery and also used to guide some procedures done during cardiac catheterisation.

How to Prepare for a Transoesophageal Echocardiogram

The test will be performed as an inpatient and requires admission into hospital (usually as a day case). You will be required to fast for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure, that means nothing to eat or drink, including water. Check with your doctor before taking your usual medications, as some may be withheld until after your procedure. If you are on Warfarin you may be required to check your INR level before the procedure to ensure that it is not too high.

What Happens During a Transoesophageal Echocardiogram?

A cardiologist will be performing the transoesophageal echo along with an anaesthetist and nursing staff. An IV line (drip) will be placed in your arm and medications given to put you into a light sleep. 

The probe will then be guided into your mouth while the cardiologist gently presses your tongue out of the way. You may be asked to swallow to help move the probe down your oesophagus. The actual procedure usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes. Your electrocardiogram (ECG), oxygen levels and other vital signs will be monitored during and after the procedure. A mouth guard may be used to protect your teeth.

What Happens After a Transoesophageal Echocardiogram?

For several hours after the test you may feel sleepy and may have a dry or mild sore throat. Due to the nature of some of the medications, you will not be able to remember much of the test.

You will remain in hospital until you are fully alert and have had something to eat and drink. You are not permitted to drive for 24-hours after the procedure, so you will need someone to take you home from hospital.

Results

A report will be sent electronically to your referring Doctor, usually within 24-hours. You will need to contact them to discuss your results and find out if you require any follow up tests or treatment.

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