This test involves the use of a specialised ultrasound probe that images the heart through the oesophagus. Because the probe is anatomically closer to the chest wall than probes imaging through the chest wall it is able to take higher resolution images. In experienced hands the operator is able to construct 3D images of your heart to help in better identifying the nature of the heart problem.
You will be attached to a monitoring system (heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels). A local anaesthetic spray is often used to ‘numb’ the throat and suppress the ‘gag-reflex’. A cannula will be inserted, and you will be given either sedation (‘drowsy’) or in most cases anaesthesia (‘put to sleep’). A small lubricated ultrasound ‘camera’ is gently inserted into your oesophagus (food pipe) to take detailed pictures of your heart. The procedure will take about 20-30 minutes depending on the complexity of your issue.