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Transesophageal echocardiography, also known as TEE, is an echocardiogram made using endoscopy. A small probe is guided through the throat into the esophagus while a child is sedated to closely evaluate the heart and blood vessels within the chest.
TEE is used to evaluate the internal heart structures and path of blood flow in congenital (present at birth) heart defects. TEE is also used during heart surgery to evaluate the effects of surgical intervention to the heart, such as repair of congenital heart defects.
TEE may be a more appropriate type of echocardiogram when circumstances that may interfere with the ability to obtain adequate images—such as pulmonary disease—are present. Certain conditions of the heart, such as mitral valve disease, blood clots or masses inside the heart, dissection (tear) of the lining of the aorta, and implanted heart valves also may be more easily seen and assessed with TEE than with regular echocardiograms.
Echocardiography uses sound waves to assess the heart's function and structures. A transducer (similar to a tiny microphone) sends out ultrasound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves "echo" off of the heart structures. The transducer picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer. The computer interprets the echoes into an image of the heart walls and valves.
The TEE transducer works the same as the one used in a regular echocardiogram, but because the sound waves do not have to pass through skin, muscle, or bone, a clearer image of the heart can be obtained.
There are several different types of TEE echocardiography. A TEE can utilize one, or more, of four special types of echocardiography:
View the patient procedure sheet about TEE at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
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