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Trans-oesophageal echo (TOE)


Cardiac catheter suite, level 1, Royal Hospital
(best entrance - main entrance)


A trans-oesophageal echocardiogram (T.O.E) is a specialised ultrasound examination of the heart.

This is a diagnostic test to check and visualise the functions of the heart. The overall working mechanism of the heart can be monitored, as can the flow of blood, blood volume and function of the valves.

This procedure provides much clearer and more detailed pictures of the heart. In order to obtain the pictures patients are asked to swallow a small probe.

Other Information 

  • Your stomach has to be empty for a T.O.E. so you must not eat or drink for seven hours before your appointment time.
  • If you are on medication, then take it with sips of water at the normal time.
  • Please arrange for someone to be available to take you home after your recovery.
  • If you are taking Warfarin, please inform the staff on your arrival and an INR blood test will be performed. If the results are within acceptable ranges then the procedure can go ahead.
  • If you have any allergies please inform staff on arrival.

The doctor will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to sign a consent form giving your permission for the examination.

You will need to remove any dentures. A small plastic tube may be placed into a vein in your arm so that medicines can be given. To make the test more comfortable an anaesthetic will be sprayed to the back of your throat.

You will need to lie on a bed on your left hand side for the test. You may be given a small amount of sedation to hep you relax. In some circumstances the doctor will decide that it is safer not to give you any sedation.

A guard will be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth. The probe will then be placed at the back of your mouth. You will then be asked to swallow the probe which helps it to pass into your oesophagus. The probe will not interfere with your breathing or cause you any pain. The test usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

If you have had a sedative you will be allowed to sleep for a few hours in a recovery ward. You will not be able to eat or drink for 45 minutes following the test. Once you have fully recovered, you can be taken home by car. It is advised that you are not alone for the next 12 hours. You cannot drive for 24 hours after the test.

If you have not had a sedative you will not be able to eat or drink for 45 minutes following the test. Once you have fully recovered, you can be taken home by car.