Trans Oesophageal Echoangiography

A transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) can give extremely clear picture of the heart by missing out the skin, muscle and bone of the chest wall a normal transthoracic echocardiogram has to cope with. During a TOE a flexible ultrasound probe (about the thickness of the tubing of a stethoscope) is passed through the mouth into the oesophagus or gullet. Since the heart lies on the oesophagus the ultrasound beam has very little tissue to get through before it reaches the heart. Extremely clear pictures of the heart can be obtained.

How is a a TOE performed?

The test is done on an empty stomach - i.e. with nothing to eat or drink as least 6 hours before. The back of the throat is sprayed with a local anaesthetic and then the patient lies on the left side. A sedative is given through an intravenous (iv) line to help in relaxation The TOE probe on the end of the flexible tube is passed through a mouth guard between the teeth and is swallowed with the help of the doctor. The sedation minimises any discomfort and there is usually no pain. The tube goes down the oesophagus the same way as swallowed food. Heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels are monitored throughout the procedure.

What information is does a TOE give that an ordinary echo does not?

A TOE is extremely useful in detecting blood clots in the top of the heart (atria), holes in the heart such as atrial septal defects (ASD) and patent foramen ovale (PFO) can also help to measure the severity of certain valve problems, especially artificial valves.

Please note:

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this website is up-to-date and accurate. However, it is intended to serve as a guide only. Symptoms may vary and if you have any medical concerns you should always consult a healthcare professional.