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Echocardiogram

How It Is Done continued...

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.

How It Feels

Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) and Doppler echocardiogram

You will not have pain from the echocardiogram. Gel is put on your chest for the ultrasound. It may feel cool. The handheld ultrasound device is pressed firmly against your chest, but it does not cause pain. You will not hear or feel the sound waves.

You may feel uncomfortable from lying still or from the transducer pressing on your chest. If you need to take a break, tell the technician.

Most people do not experience any discomfort from ultrasound tests. But if you have severe difficulty breathing or cannot lie flat for a long exam, you may not be able to have an entire echo study. Talk to your doctor or the technician performing your echo about any concerns you have.

Dobutamine stress echocardiogram

  • You may have a brief, sharp pain when the intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in your arm.
  • If medicine to stress your heart is used, you may have symptoms of mild nausea, headache, dizziness, flushing, or chest pain (angina). These symptoms only last a few minutes.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

During the test
  • You may notice a brief, sharp pain when the intravenous (IV) needle is placed in a vein in your arm.
  • The anesthetic sprayed into your throat may taste bitter and will make your tongue and throat feel numb and swollen. Some people report that they feel as if they cannot breathe at times because of the probe in their throat, but this is a false sensation caused by the anesthetic. There is always plenty of breathing space around the probe in your mouth and throat. Remember to relax and take slow, deep breaths.
  • You may gag and feel nauseous, bloated, or have mild belly cramps when the probe is moved. If the discomfort is severe, alert your doctor with an agreed-upon signal or a tap on the arm. Even though you won't be able to talk during the procedure, you can still communicate.
  • The IV medicines will make you feel sleepy. Other side effects—such as heavy eyelids, trouble speaking, a dry mouth, or blurred vision—may last for several hours after the test. You probably will not be able to remember much of the test.
After the test
  • You may have a tickling, dry throat; slight hoarseness; or a mild sore throat. These symptoms may last for 2 to 3 days. Throat lozenges and warm saltwater gargles can help relieve these symptoms. Throat lozenges can be used by people age 4 or older. And most people can gargle at age 8 and older.
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you have:
    • Difficulty swallowing or talking.
    • Shortness of breath or a fast heartbeat.
    • Chest pain.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
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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