To make this examination more comfortable, your nurse will spray a numbing medication into the back of your throat or you may gargle with it. This may taste slightly bitter and will make your mouth and throat numb for approximately 30 minutes.
Then you will be positioned on your left side with your left arm behind your back. A small plastic mouthpiece, or guard, will be put in your mouth to prevent you from accidentally biting the tube, or the doctor's finger, when the tube is slowly placed into your esophagus, or food pipe.
In order to help relax the muscles in the back of your throat and help open up the passageway, you will need to take slow, deep breaths. You will then be instructed to put your chin to your chest and open your mouth. As the doctor begins to push the tube in, you will be asked to swallow. Swallowing makes the tube go down more easily. If you gag when the tube enters your food pipe, the nurse will spray more numbing medicine on your throat to decrease your gag reflex and make you more comfortable.
Your doctor will insert the tube 14 to 18 inches down the length of your food pipe. A nearby video screen will confirm that the tube is in exactly the right place to create images of your heart.
The actual procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. When the test is done your doctor will slowly pull the tube out through your mouth.