Sometimes an echocardiagram (TTE, transthoracic echocardiogram) does not provide a clear enough image of the heart, and a transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) is required to provide the required information.
An ultrasound probe is passed down the oesophagus (food pipe) in order to obtain a clearer view of the heart through sound waves emitted from and return to the probe.
During the procedure, you lie on your left-hand side on a bed and a sedative is usually administered. A local anesthetic is applied to the back of the throat to aid the passage of the probe down your throat, and you can breath normally while the probe is there.
It normally lasts for 20 minutes and there isn't any pain, although some discomfort may be felt when the probe is first fed into your mouth and down the oesophagus. You will be able to continue with your normal routine shortly after the procedure has been completed.