What is it?

A transoesophageal echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart.  It involves passing a probe down the gullet, allowing an unobstructed view of the heart.  It provides us with better details than a normal echocardiogram.

How do I prepare for it?

If your appointment is in the morning, it is essential that you have NOTHING to eat from MIDNIGHT the night before your appointment.  You may drink clear fluids up to four hours before your appointment.

If your appointment is after mid-day, have a light breakfast, e.g. cereal or toast before 7.00 am and NOTHING to eat after that.  You may have clear
fluids up to four hours before your appointment.

All medication should be taken, as prescribed, with small sips of water.

You may want to bring a book or something to do that will help pass the time you spend with us.  You do not have to change your clothes, so nothing else is required.

What happens when I arrive?

The procedure is usually done in the Day Surgery Unit which is in the main entrance of the hospital on level 3.  Your details will be taken and checked
by our receptionist.  A nurse will take your blood pressure and ask you some questions about your health.  The doctor will explain the procedure to you and ask you to sign a consent form.

The procedure can be performed either with a local anaesthetic throat spray or a light sedation:

Throat spray – this will numb the back of your throat, making it more comfortable to swallow the tube.

Sedation – this will be given via a needle in your hand or arm.  The sedation will relax you and may make you drowsy, but will not put you to sleep.
You will hear what is said to you and be able to respond to any instructions given to you.

You will be asked to lie on your left side and a mouth-guard will be placed in your mouth to enable the transoesophageal echocardiogram probe to pass through.

How long will it take?

The procedure takes about ten minutes, but if you have sedation you will be here for at least  two to three hours.

Please note that the time of your appointment is when you are to arrive at the hospital, it is not necessarily the time of your procedure.

After the procedure

If you have a throat spray you are able to leave after checking with the ward nurse for any further instructions.  You must wait about 30-40 before having a drink to make sure the effects of the throat spray have gone – always start with water.

If you have sedation you will have to stay with us for one to three hours. You MUST be accompanied home and have someone stay with you overnight.  The effects of the sedative can last up to 36 hours, so you should not drive, operate machinery or drink alcohol during that time.


You will be told the results on the same day.  The results will be sent to your consultant who will inform your GP.


If you have any questions about this procedure please contact the department on: 01935 384457

Ref: 02-18-104
Review:  04/20