About Your Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

This information will help you prepare for your transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

Figure 1. A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a procedure that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to create moving pictures of your heart. Your doctor will insert a probe (flexible tube) into your esophagus. This will allow your doctor to get detailed pictures of your heart because your esophagus is directly behind your heart.

A TEE lets your doctor know how your:

  • Heart valves are working
  • Heart muscle is moving
  • Blood is flowing

A Week Before Your Procedure

Ask about your medications

If you take insulin or other medications for diabetes, you may need to change the dose before your procedure. Ask the doctor who prescribes your diabetes medication what you should do the day before and the morning of your procedure.

Get a letter from your doctor, if necessary

If you have an automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), you will need to get a clearance letter from your cardiologist before your procedure.

Arrange for someone to take you home

You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you don’t have anyone, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home, however there is usually a charge for this service and you will also need to provide transportation.

In New York:

     Partners in Care 888-735-8913

     Prime Care 212-944-0244

In New Jersey:

     Caring People 877-227-4649

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3 Days Before Your Procedure

A few days before your procedure you will receive a telephone call from an endoscopy nurse. He or she will review the instructions in this guide with you and ask you questions about your medical history. The nurse will also review your medications and tell you which to take the morning of your procedure. Use the space below to write them down.


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The Day Before Your Procedure

Time of your procedure

A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your procedure. He or she will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your procedure. If you are scheduled for your procedure on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you do not receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

If you need to cancel your procedure for any reason please call the doctor who scheduled it for you.

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The Day of Your Procedure

Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. 12 ounces of clear liquid

Examples of clear liquids include:

  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé (no particles of dried food or seasonings) 
  • Gelatin, such as Jell-O® 
  • Clear fruit juices (no pulp), such as white cranberry, white grape, or apple 
  • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, or Gatorade® 
  • Coffee or tea, without milk or cream 

Things to remember

  • Take only the medications your doctor told you to take the morning of your procedure. Take them with a few sips of water.
  • Do not smoke the day of your procedure.
  • Do not put on any lotion, cream, powder, deodorant, make-up, or perfume.
  • Do not wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including any body piercings.
  • Leave all valuables, such as credit cards and jewelry, at home.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead.
  • ________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________

What to bring with you

  • A list of the medications you take at home.
  • Your rescue inhaler (such as albuterol for asthma), if you have one.
  • Only the money you may need for the day.
  • A case for your glasses.
  • Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one.
  • _________________________________________________________
  • _________________________________________________________
  • _________________________________________________________

Where to park

Parking at MSK is available in the garage on East 66th Street between First and York Avenues. To reach the garage, enter East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter block toward First Avenue, on the right (north) side of the street. A pedestrian tunnel connects the garage to the hospital. For questions about pricing, call 212-639-2338. There are also nearby commercial garages on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues and 3 on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Where to go

Please arrive at the Endoscopy Suite at 1275 York Avenue. This is the main building of MSK. Take the M elevator to the 2nd floor.

What to expect

Once you arrive at the hospital, doctors, nurses, and other staff members will ask you to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. Patients with the same or similar names may be having procedures on the same day.

After changing into a hospital gown, you will meet your nurse. He or she will place an intravenous (IV) catheter into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. At first you will receive fluids through the IV, but it will be used later to give you anesthesia (medication to make you sleepy). Your doctor will explain the procedure, and answer any questions you have. Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are not able to swallow liquids or food
  • Have had surgery to your esophagus or radiation to your chest, spine, or upper back
  • Are allergic to any medications

When it’s time for your procedure, you will be brought into the procedure room and helped onto an exam table. You will be attached to equipment to monitor your heart, breathing, and blood pressure. You will also receive oxygen through your nose, and a mouth guard will be placed over your teeth to protect them. If you wear dentures, you will be asked to remove them. Your doctor may numb your throat with a spray. You will receive anesthesia through your IV, which will make you fall asleep.

Once you are asleep, your doctor will insert the probe (flexible tube) into your mouth and pass it slowly down your esophagus. Your doctor will move it around slightly to take pictures of your heart and blood flow. This takes about 15 minutes.

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After Your Procedure

In the recovery room

You will wake up in the recovery room. Your nurse will continue to monitor your heart, breathing, and blood pressure. Once you are fully awake, your nurse will remove your IV. If you have someone waiting with you, your nurse will explain your discharge instructions to both of you before you go home.

At home

  • You may feel soreness in your throat. This will go away in a day or 2. In the meantime, drink plenty of water and use cough drops to soothe your throat.
  • Your doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotics. Be sure to take all of them as directed.
  • You may resume your normal activities in 24 hours after your procedure.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • You may have a little blood in your phlegm or saliva that you cough up. If this occurs for more than 24 hours or if there is a lot of blood, call your doctor.
  • Your results will be available in 2 or 3 business days. Your results will be given to the doctor who sent you for your TEE.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Blood in your phlegm or saliva for more than 24 hours after your procedure
  • A lot of blood in your phlegm or saliva, such as when you cough
  • Any questions or concerns
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