What is it?
Transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) uses sound waves to produce images of the heart. Unlike standard echocardiography, TOE uses a tube-like device placed in the mouth and passed down the throat into the oesophagus (the food pipe that connects the throat to the stomach) to record images of the heart.
This test shows our Cardiologists the size, shape and movement of your heart muscle and valves. Examination of large blood vessels such as the aorta (the main blood vessel supplying blood to your body) also occurs during this procedure.
Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your test. If you have diabetes, you should talk to your Cardiologist about food intake and diabetic medications (including insulin) because these can affect your blood sugar levels. Please take your other medications with a sip of water as routine.
You must not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery within 12 hours of this procedure. Therefore, you will need to organise someone to drive you to and from your appointment and have a responsible adult stay with you during the rest of the day.
What should I expect?
The procedure can take up to 1 hour. At the beginning of the procedure, the Cardiologist numbs your throat with an anaesthetic spray.
The Cardiologist then places a needle connected to a tube (called an intravenous line or ‘IV’) into an arm vein. Sedation given through this IV helps you relax throughout the test and most people fall asleep
Next, the Cardiologist passes the small flexible TOE probe into your throat. You are then asked to swallow and the probe gently moves down your throat into your oesophagus. This may cause some discomfort and gagging is possible. On the end of the probe is the ultrasound camera which takes pictures of your heart from different angles
RRemoval of the probe and IV line occurs when all the required pictures are taken. You may feel sleepy until the sedative has worn off. Monitoring of your heart rate and blood pressure continues during this recovery period. You may find that you have a sore throat or trouble swallowing after the procedure, however, these side effects usually subside after a day. Occasionally, you are required to stay in hospital overnight.
The Cardiologist analyses the images and sends the report to your referring doctor and it is recommended that the results be discussed with him/her.