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Transoesophagal Echo

What to Expect

  • A Transoesophagal Echo (TOE) is an ultrasound scan of the heart
  • The procedure involves having a probe passed into your oesophagus (the food pipe) on the end of a flexible probe
  • On arrival you will usually be met by one of our healthcare professionals who will explain the test, ask some routing questions and ask you to sign a consent form
  • A Clinical Physiologist or assistant will be performing the test

What does the Test involve?

  • The test is performed on a couch or bed
  • The test takes 60 min in total, however the camera is only in for a maximum of 10 min
  • A small canula may be inserted into an arm vein (like a blood test) to administer sedation
  • An ECG (Echocardiogram) and a blood oxygen monitor will be attached and you may be given oxygen through your nose
  • You will be asked to remove any dentures and your throat will be sprayed with local anaesthetic to make it numb
  • A bite guard will be placed between your front teeth
  • The tube is lubricated and then put at the back of your mouth
  • You will be asked to swallow a small number of times to help the tube pass into the food pipe (this will not be painful)
  • You can breathe through your mouth or nose for the remainder of the test
  • The medical team may need to administer a painless injection during the test, if required
  • We do not normally give sedation as we give a strong local anaesthetic. This allows the procedure to be quicker and has fewer side effects
  • Without sedation, you will not need to be accompanied by another adult and you will also be able to drive after the test
  • The anaesthetic means you must refrain from eating or drinking for two hours

What should I do before the Test?

  • Do not eat or take fluids for up to six hours before the test (except a small amount of water for taking tablets)
  • If you take Warfarin, please stop three days before the test (please contact your GP to arrange a blood test at least the day before your appointment)
  • If you have difficulty swallowing or have ever had surgery on your throat or gullet, you should inform the department as soon as you receive your appointment. It may be necessary to have further investigations prior to this test
  • If you have any allergies, especially to eggs, please inform the doctor before the procedure begins

After the Test

  • If you have not had sedation you can go home straight away
  • Please refrain from eating or drinking for two hours
  • Check that the local anaesthetic has worn off, using cold water, before you take anything hot
  • The sedative can have a ‘hangover’effect, you will be asked to sit or lie in a recovery area until you feel awake enough to travel home
  • Until the day after your test, please do not: 
     - Drive any vehicle
     - Operate any machinery 
     - Attempt to cook, use sharp utensils or pour boiling fluids
     - Drink Alcohol
     - Take sleeping tablets
     - Make any important decisions or sign any contracts

The procedure is very safe and complications are rare. Occasional bruising of the back of the throat can occur.

The Results

You will be given informal results after the scan. Then results will be sent to the person who referred you, for example your GP, with details of what the test results show and any treatment required.