What is a transoesophageal echocardiogram?

This is an ultrasound scan taken using a probe inserted via your mouth into your oesophagus. The ultrasound pictures taken with a TOE are more detailed than a regular echocardiogram (which uses a probe on the outside of your chest) as the probe is much closer to your heart.

Why do I need to a transoesophageal echocardiogram?

A TOE helps your doctor detect and diagnose problems associated with the structure and function of your heart, valves and aorta.

You are given a light general anaesthetic so you are not awake during the procedure. The TOE probe is placed via the mouth into your oesophagus and lowered so that it sits just behind your heart. This allows ultrasound pictures to be taken of your heart valves, aorta and structures from the back of your heart.

Can I eat or drink before my procedure?
You will need to fast for at least 6 hours prior to your procedure; drinking clear fluids is allowed until 2 hours prior to the procedure.

Do I take my medications on the day of the procedure?
You should take your usual morning medications with a sip of water, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

Where do I go to have the procedure?
Peninsula Heart Centre will arrange for you to have your TOE procedure at Peninsula Private Hospital, Frankston.

What do I need to bring?
Your hospital admission paperwork with a signed consent form, health insurance details and Medicare /DVA card and a list of your current medications.

What do I wear?
Wear comfortable clothing as you are required to change into a hospital gown prior to the procedure.

How much will it cost?
Doctors at Peninsula Heart Centre do not charge out of pocket fees for your procedures at Peninsula Private Hospital.  Our doctors subscribe to the ‘No-Gap-Scheme’ and patients will not be charged any extra fees (your private health insurance covers the gap).

What happens during the procedure?
You will have an intravenous (IV) line inserted into your arm in order to give you a light anaesthetic.

You will be asked to remove any dentures and a small plastic mouth guard will be used to protect your teeth.

Whilst asleep, your throat will be sprayed with a local anaesthetic and you will be placed on your left side.

The probe will then be guided into your oesophagus. The probe is approximately 1.2 cm or 1/2 inch wide. Ultrasound images are completed and then the probe and mouthguard are withdrawn.

How long does the procedure take?
The test takes about 30 minutes, but because of the anaesthetic, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after another 2 – 4 hours of observation.

What are the risks?
There are no known risks involved with an ultrasound, which does not emit radiation.

While the risk of complications associated with a TOE procedure is very low, risks include:

  • Discomfort in the throat
  • Dental injury
  • Breathing complications, such as onset of asthma due to spasm of the airways
  • Inhalation of stomach contents (potentially leading to lung infection) avoided by fasting.
  • Perforation of the oesophagus

Every effort is made to minimise the risk of the procedure and your doctor will discuss these with you prior to you having the procedure.

When will my results be available?
A report will be made available to your referring doctor once the images have been reviewed. A copy is retained in your medical records.

A follow up appointment may be required to discuss the results with your doctor.