• What is a transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE)?

    A transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) is performed by placing an ultrasound probe into the oesophagus to take images of the heart from inside of the body. The oesophagus lies immediately behind the heart and there is no interference from the ribs or lungs. It can therefore provide more detailed pictures of your heart.

  • How is a TOE performed?

    TOE is usually performed as a day case procedure and you will be required to not eat or drink (fast) for 6 hours prior to your procedure. You should take all of your regular medication (a small sip of water is fine).

    You will be administered a sedative (through a tube inserted into a vein the arm) to help you relax and some anaesthetic spray to the back of the throat. Your heart rhythm will also be monitored throughout the procedure.

    You will be asked to lie on your side with your head tilted forward. You will be asked to hold a mouth guard in your mouth and then be asked to swallow to allow the probe to pass into your oesophagus.

    The test is painless but may feel uncomfortable as the probe passes down.

    The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes and afterwards you will be given some time for the effects of the sedation to wear off. You will need a friend or family member to drive you home and will have to wait a few hours to eat and drink normally to allow for the local anaesthetic effects to pass.

    The procedure is generally safe but there is small risk (<1%) of a sore throat following the procedure. Very rarely the procedure can cause dental damage or trauma to the oesophagus.

  • Why do I need a TOE?

    Prof Ruparelia will only recommend a TOE where all of the information required cannot be obtained from a more standard TTE examination. The specific reasons for a TOE will be explained to you by Dr Ruparelia. The results obtained will be used to guide your future treatment.