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How It Is Done continued...

An exercise stress echo takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

Dobutamine stress echocardiogram

Sometimes medicine called dobutamine is used instead of exercise to stress your heart. For this test, you will lie on your back or left side on a bed or examination table, and a baseline echocardiogram will be done. EKG electrodes will be taped to your arms and legs to record your heart rate during the test.

Next, the technician cleans the site on your arm where the medicine will be injected, and an intravenous (IV) line will be placed in a vein in your arm.

After the IV is started, you will be given dobutamine, which increases your heart rate and causes your heart to work harder. Echocardiogram images will be taken while you receive the dobutamine. Your peak heart rate is reached in about 15 minutes. At times you will be asked to hold very still, breathe in and out very slowly, hold your breath, or lie on your left side. After your peak heart rate is reached, the medicine will be stopped and your heart rate will return to normal (in about 1 to 3 minutes). More echocardiogram images will be taken when your heart rate returns to normal.

A dobutamine stress echo takes about an hour.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Before a TEE, your throat may be numbed with an anesthetic spray, gargle, or lozenge to relax your gag reflex and to ease insertion of the probe. Shortly before the procedure begins, an IV line will be placed in a vein in your arm. Medicine to decrease saliva and stomach secretions may be given through the IV. A pain medicine and sedative will be given to you through the IV in your arm during the procedure. You should feel relaxed and drowsy but still alert enough to cooperate.

Your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the procedure. Also, a small device used to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood (pulse oximeter) may be attached to your finger or earlobe.

You will be asked to lie on your left side with your head tilted slightly forward. A mouth guard may be inserted to protect your teeth from the probe. Then the lubricated tip of the probe will be guided into your mouth while your doctor gently presses your tongue out of the way. You may be asked to swallow to help move the tube along. It may be helpful to remember that the instrument is no thicker than many foods you swallow. When the probe is in your esophagus, it will be moved down gently to the level of your upper right heart chamber (atrium), and ultrasound images will be taken. You will not feel or hear the sound waves during the test.

During the procedure, try not to swallow unless requested. An assistant may remove the saliva from your mouth with a suction device, or you can just let the saliva drain from the side of your mouth. A transesophageal echo is generally painless, though you may feel nauseated and uncomfortable while the probe is in your throat.

The test takes about 2 hours. The probe will be in place in your esophagus for about 10 to 20 minutes.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 09, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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