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8110 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a diagnostic ultrasound test that gives cardiologists a clear view of the heart through a small tube passed into the esophagus.

Our technicians insert a probe with a transducer (like a microphone) down the esophagus during the procedure. The transducer sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. As ultrasonic sound waves bounce or “echo” off the heart structures, the transducer sends them to a computer that interprets them into an image of the heart walls and valves for later viewing and evaluation.

TEE provides a clearer image of the heart than the traditional transthoracic echocardiogram, which uses a transducer placed on the chest, meaning sound waves must pass through muscle and bone tissue. The TEE probe is much closer to the heart since the esophagus and heart are right next to each other.

TEE is especially useful when transthoracic echocardiograms cannot provide enough information and can better visualize and assess these conditions of the heart, such as:

  • Mitral valve disease
  • Blood clots or masses inside the heart
  • Dissection of the lining of the aorta
  • Implanted prosthetic heart valves

TEE may also be used during non-cardiac surgery to assess patients with known cardiac disease and during heart surgery to evaluate the effects of surgical intervention.

Learn more about Transesophageal Echocardiograms, including what to expect before, during and after the test.