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Information about TOE (Transoesophageal Echocardiography)


What is a TOE?

A TOE (Transoesophageal Echocardiography) is a cardiac diagnostic procedure that views and takes photos of the structures of the heart and aorta via the oesophagus (throat). A flexible probe is inserted through your mouth, into your throat and placed just at the back of the heart. The procedure will take approximately 30 minutes and you will be sedated during this time.

Why have a TOE?

A TOE will provide accurate information about the structure and condition of your heart and aorta (the major artery leading from the heart). The procedure will help your doctor with the diagnosis of certain possible heart problems. The images taken could be helpful in identifying blood clots, infection around the heart valves, the condition of the valves, or any tears in the aorta. It can also be helpful if transthoracic echocardiography (ultrasound scan done on the outside of the chest) is inconclusive.

How do I prepare for a TOE procedure?

An appointment will be set for you for a full assessment by one of the doctors to decide if there are any risks or reasons not to go ahead with the procedure.

The TOE procedure is performed in the Endoscopy/Medical Day Stay Department situated on the ground floor of the Hutt Hospital.

Please do not eat or drink anything for a minimum of 6 hours before the planned procedure.

You can take your usual medications with a small sip of water or take them after the procedure.

Upon arrival at the Endoscopy Department you will have the procedure explained by the doctor and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions as well. The doctor will then ask for your written consent to proceed.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Although complications can occur they are rare and will be discussed with you prior to the procedure taking place.

What happens during the procedure?

An intravenous cannula (‘IV’ needle) will be placed in your arm prior to going into the procedure room.

Once you are in the procedure room you will receive oxygen via a tube that sits under your nostrils.

You will be asked to lie on your left side.

A blood pressure cuff to record your blood pressure will be placed around your arm and a finger probe clip will measure your pulse and oxygen levels. You will also be connected to a heart monitor.

Staff present for the procedure will be the cardiologist, the cardiac physiologist and a nurse.

Local anaesthetic will be sprayed at the back of your throat and a bite block placed into your mouth to prevent you biting the TOE probe.

You will be given a light sedation via the IV cannula inserted into your arm.

The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

You will be transferred to the recovery area after your procedure. You will be monitored by nursing staff during this time. The recovery nurse will prepare you for discharge home.

Once you are awake you will be offered a hot drink.

Following the procedure you will be kept in the recovery area until the sedation wears off. You will usually be given something light to eat and drink once you are fully awake and your throat is no longer numb.

You will need to stay in the unit for at least 1 hour following your procedure

Your results will be discussed with you at a follow up clinic.

As you have had sedation you must not drive home afterwards so you will need someone to collect you.

What should I do afterwards?

Due to the medication we give you, you MUST NOT DRIVE A VEHICLE for 12 hours after the procedure. It is important that you have someone to drive you home. It is advisable to have someone to stay overnight with you.

Spend the rest of the day quietly at home and do not go back to work. You will be able to return to normal activity and work the following day.

Your throat may feel a little uncomfortable over the next day which is normal

You will be given information regarding aftercare when you are discharged.

If you have any questions or problems understanding any of this information, please contact the Endoscopy Unit staff on 570 9191.