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Gain fast access to a transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE), a painless test that provides clear images of the inside of your heart to monitor your heart health
An echocardiogram, also referred to as an "echo", is a painless scan that looks inside your heart and its nearby surrounding blood vessels. The test can detect issues with your heart and help monitor your heart health more generally.
It is a type of ultrasound scan, which means it is performed using a small probe that sends high-frequency soundwaves that create echoes, which bounce from parts of your body. These echoes are detected by the probe and turned into a moving image displayed on a monitor as the scan is being performed.
An echocardiogram can be performed by a consultant cardiologist, a cardiac physiologist, a trained sonographer, or even your GP. The results of an echocardiogram are typically analysed by a cardiac physiologist and confirmed by your consultant cardiologist.
At Circle Health Group, we have a large network of specialists who can perform transoesophageal echocardiograms. To find out more, you can call a member of our advisory team on on 0141 300 5009, or book an initial consultation with a consultant online.
A transoesophageal echocardiogram is usually performed when your consultant needs to look more closely at the inside of your heart. For example, they might be looking specifically for blood clots, which are masses of blood that form when platelets, proteins and cells in your blood stick together.
It is the only type of echocardiogram that takes images of your heart from the inside of your body, providing clearer and more detailed images than a standard echocardiogram. TOE might be offered if a TTE (standard echocardiogram) or stress echocardiogram has not clearly captured the inside of your heart and helped identify the cause of your symptoms.
An echocardiogram of any kind can help diagnose and monitor several heart conditions by checking the structure of your heart and how blood flows through its surrounding blood vessels. The test(s) can check for:
When the blood supply to your heart is blocked.
If your heart fails to pump enough blood around your body at the right pressure, it can lead to heart failure.
When you have an infection in the lining of your heart, which damages your heart valves.
This is an umbrella term to describe a range of birth defects that affect the way your heart functions.
These occur when certain gel-like collections of blood build up in your veins or arteries.
Your consultant or cardiac physiologist will recommend you have a transoesophageal echocardiogram instead of a TTE or stress echocardiogram for various reasons, including if you:
You might be offered a sedative for the procedure, which is a medication that calms you down and eases discomfort during surgery. The test is not painful, but it might cause some discomfort in your throat, which can be managed with the sedative. If you are offered a sedative, it is usually administered through a fine tube (also called a cannula) into a vein in your arm. Sedatives can sometimes impact your breathing, so your oxygen levels and heart rhythm will be monitored closely during the test. You might also be offered extra oxygen, if needed.
You will be asked to swallow as the probe is gently inserted in your throat and moved down into your stomach. This probe is connected to a monitor that displays images of the inside of your heart as the test is being performed. These pictures are continuously updated to show the movement of your heart while the test is being performed.
A TOE usually takes around 30 minutes.
You should arrange for someone to collect you from hospital after the test. This is because you won't be able to drive for 24 hours after having a sedative. We are happy to arrange for a taxi to collect you from hospital, if you would prefer.
Your consultant will make sure you know everything you need to do before having the test to help you feel prepared and put your mind at ease.
You might also have a sore throat for a day or two after the test, caused by the probe being inserted into your mouth. This should pass quickly and can be managed with traditional painkillers.
Your consultant and healthcare team are there to answer any questions you might have about how to manage your recovery after a TOE, but you should feel back to normal after around 24 hours following the procedure.
Your physiologist will need around an hour to analyse your results after your test. Your consultant will confirm their analysis and your diagnosis. You will meet with your consultant after the test to discuss your results and potential treatment plan in detail.
In some cases, you might need to wait a day or two before getting your results, but this depends on your individual circumstances. Your consultant will ensure you know how long you will have to wait for your results to help ease your mind and stop you from worrying unnecessarily.
Some people can have an allergic reaction to the sedative used during a TOE. This is rare, but you will have the opportunity to let your doctor know if you are prone to allergies or have experienced an allergic reaction to a sedative or contrast dye before.
Your doctor will ensure you know everything you need to know about the potential risks of having a TOE, so you can feel prepared for the test and reassured that complications are rare.
If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.