Diagnostic transthoracic ultrasound scanning ‘TTE’ is harmless and performed using a transducer (Probe) which is placed on the chest with jelly which improves the images. This scan looks directly at the structure of the heart, its chambers and valves. In addition it can give valuable information about the flow of the blood. Sometimes the echo images will be enhanced with either a contrast agent or a bubble study.
Transoesophageal echo (TOE) is similar in concept to a transthoracic echo ‘TTE’ however it uses a very small transducer fitted to a flexible probe which is passed into the oesophagus (gullet) using local anaesthetic and if necessary mild sedation or occasionally under general anaesthetic. This test is particularly good for looking at the structure of valves of the heart since the heart lies very close to the gullet in the chest allowing high resolution images.
All test results should be treated with caution and interpreted in the context of a clinical assessment.