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Transoesophageal Echocardiography (TOE)

trans echoA TOE is an echocardiogram obtained from a probe passed through the mouth to the oesophagus (gullet). This gives very high quality images, particularly of the structures at the back of the heart, because the back of the heart is right in front of the oesophagus.

Sometimes the images obtained from the chest wall are not adequate to diagnose certain heart conditions, and a TOE is required. Common indications for a TOE are:

  • To look for a blood clot inside the heart after a stroke
  • To look for infection on one of the heart valves
  • To show the exact mechanism of leaking (regurgitation) of the mitral valve in someone who may be a candidate for a repair of the mitral valve
  • To help make a precise diagnosis in someone with a congenital heart defect
  • To assess whether there is any problem with the aorta

How is it done?

The procedure is done either in the Mercy Endoscopy unit, or the Mercy CCU. It is important to have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the test. The throat is sprayed with some local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation is given. The test usually takes 10-20 minutes.

After the test

Observation is required for a short time after the test. The patient is advised not to drive for 24 hours (because of the sedation).  A report will be sent to the referring doctor, and the cardiologist who has performed the test will explain the results after the procedure.

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