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Metal Detectors

ranchoalmostarranchoalmosta Posts: 120
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Water Cooler
I've been curious how people with hardware or other metal in their body get through the airport metal detectors. Do you have to carry a note from your doctor? Is there some sort of certificate you carry? Just wonderin'.


  • I have plates and screws in my ankle after a fracture. I asked my ortho surgeon what to do and he said, "show them your scar". The first time I flew after that I carefully carried my post surgery x rays, but I have never set off any metal detectors in 5 years.

    Now for back surgery I have no idea, because showing your scar might not be a good thing. So a small copy of an xray showing the metal might be a good idea.

    Susan aka oma

    ranchoalmosta said:
    I've been curious how people with hardware or other metal in their body get through the airport metal detectors. Do you have to carry a note from your doctor? Is there some sort of certificate you carry? Just wonderin'.
  • I've been on a plane four times since my back surgery about 14 1/2 months ago. So far, no one has said anything! :H

    Evelyn :)
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
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  • ia an inert metal. That might be why it isn't picked-up by the metal detectors. I've been through one and it did nothing.
  • Usually if anything that is implanted into your body is at risk of setting off security systems, the doc or company that makes the implanted device will issue you a card to carry that specifies you have an implant.

  • I found that I set off some and not others. I guess they aren't all calibrated exactly the same.

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  • Question: Will A Metal Implant Set Off Metal Detectors?

    Answer: Airport metal detectors are quite sensitive to metals, this includes metal implants that may have been placed inside your body.

    Belt buckles, key chains, and steel toed shoes may set off these sensitive metal detectors. Many commonly used orthopedic implants may also set off the metal detectors.

    The most commonly implanted orthopedic materials include stainless steel, cobalt chrome, and titanium. Different types of metal detectors work in different ways, but the newer airport screening detectors will identify patients with these metal implants.

    Obviously, there is nothing you can do to change this. If you have a hip replacement, knee replacement, a metal plate and screws, a metal rod inside your bone, or one of many other type of orthopedic implants, you too may set off the airport metal detector. We used to give patients a card to carry to inform the security staff of your implanted device, however, there is no need to continue to use these cards.

    Whether or not you have a card to alert the security personnel, they will have you step aside for further screening. To help you on your way, wear clothes that allow you to easily reveal your surgical scar (such as sweat pants, short sleeve shirts, etc.). Alert the security staff that you have a metal implant, and let them know where it is in your body. You will likely be screened with a metal detecting wand, but security sees many patients with these types of implants, and you shouldn't be delayed.

    Source: http://orthopedics.about.com/od/hipkneereplacement/f/metaldetectors.htm
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • This link has an interesting technical paper on the matter.

    http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/ortho/traumaresearch/Detection of Orthopaedic Implants by Airport Metal Detectors [01-2007].pdf

    One point that is interesting (but somewhat understandable) is the higher your BMI the lower the chance of detecting your implants.

    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Thank you all for responding.

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