TEE is used when a standard echocardiogram, using a transducer on the chest, doesn’t show certain areas of the heart and blood vessels. Because the probe is much nearer your heart when it is inside you rather than on the outside of your chest, the TEE is much more accurate than a standard echocardiogram.
The most common reasons to use TEE are to diagnose infections of the heart valves (endocarditis), to identify small blood clots in the heart, and to find small holes in the heart that allow blood to pass between the two upper chambers of the heart (the left atrium and the right atrium).
TEE may be used to diagnose a problem called aortic dissection. The aorta is the big blood vessel leading from the heart to the rest of the body. This vessel sometimes develops a split or tear between the layers of its wall, allowing bleeding into the wall. If a large amount of bleeding occurs, it may separate the layers of the aorta and cause it to burst. This can have serious consequences, including death. The nearness of the transducer to the aorta allows your health care provider to get very good pictures of the aortic wall.