There are 2 types of echocardiography (ECG). The most common echocardiogram is known as an external echocardiogram. External echocardiography involves sliding a device (or transducer) over the chest in the area near the heart. The second approach is known as transesophageal echocardiography, which involves inserting a narrow tube that contains a camera through the mouth and into the stomach. Doctors use transesophageal echocardiography to get highly detailed images of the heart.
If you are going to have an external echocardiogram, the technician will apply a gel to your chest to improve how the imaging device (or transducer) works. The gel will feel cold, but has no other side effects. As the technician moves the transducer on chest in the area around your heart, you might feel slight pressure. Some patients also experience vibrating sensations. Before the exam, you might be asked to exercise on a treadmill to raise your heart rate. During the exam, the technician will periodically ask you to remain still or hold your breath so that the images are very clear.
If you are going to have a transesophageal echocardiogram, you will be given a sedative. Once you are sedated, a thin, flexible tube that contains a camera will be inserted into your mouth, esophagus, and stomach.
If you are going to have a transesophageal echocardiogram, you should not eat after midnight the day before your exam. You may take your medications as usual, with the exception of diuretics, unless your doctor has said otherwise.
If you have questions about your medications, be sure to ask your doctor.
After a transesophageal echocardiogram, you should not eat or drink for at least 2 hours. You also should not drive because you might still be groggy from your sedative. Although there is little risk of throat injury associated with transesophageal echocardiography, your throat might be slightly sore for a day or 2 after your exam.
Please speak with your physician if you have concerns about the side effects or risks associated with your echocardiogram.
To schedule an appointment or for more information, please call 908-277-8709.