In a trans-esophageal (TEE) ultrasound a patient will swallow the probe to allow the doctor to capture a different view. Essentially, it offers a much clearer and detailed image of what is happening to and around the heart. Your doctor may order this type of ultrasound for a variety of reasons.
1. You Have An Upcoming Surgery
One of the most common reasons to have this type of ultrasound is an upcoming surgery. It gives the doctor a clear view of what’s going on in the area and can help them prepare for your surgery. It can also be used during surgery to assess the patient’s condition, as well as afterward to ensure the recovery is going smoothly. It can also be used to guide the surgeon during the surgery.
2. Diagnostic Tool
A trans-esophageal ultrasound can help a doctor detect issues with the function and structure of your heart and the surrounding blood vessels. It’s often used as the second test to diagnose a heart problem – the first one being the trans-thoracic echo. This is because the TEE ultrasound provides far more detailed images.
TEE ultrasounds can be used to diagnose a variety of illnesses, including heart attack, endocarditis, coronary heart disease, aortic aneurysm, congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, and cardiomyopathy. Additionally, it can detect injuries to the heart or the aorta, show blood clots that caused a stroke, or that could affect treatment courses.
3. Cardiac Catheterization
This procedure is used to diagnose (or treat) a variety of heart conditions. A thin tube (known as a catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel (generally in the arm, though it may be the neck or upper thigh) and then threaded to the heart. Often, doctors will rely on TEE ultrasound to assist them in guiding it into place. It provides them with a clear view of how the catheter is moving so they can ensure they get it right.
It can also be used to carry out treatments, like repairing a hole in your heart. This is also a useful time to use a TEE ultrasound.
TEE ultrasounds are helpful for doctors to prepare for surgery, this is because they can identify any potential risks. For example, a TEE ultrasound could alert them to a potential blood clot in the aorta or around the heart. This is important as a blood clot can cause a patient to experience a stroke during surgery.
It may also be used during surgery as a guide. Not only that, but it can also track the patient’s condition while the doctor operates and track blood pressure or blood flow issues.
Not only will a patient have a TEE ultrasound immediately following surgery to ensure it worked, but they will likely continue to have them at check-ups. This allows the doctor to track the patient’s recovery, see how well medication is working, and how effective the surgery was. It provides the doctor with a view of what is going on in the heart to ensure that it is functioning well and will tip them off to any changes in the patient’s condition.
Doctors commonly order TEE ultrasounds to diagnose blood vessel diseases and heart problems and they can be used for both children and adults.