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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Do I need a card to get through airport security with a metal implant?

By July 17, 2007

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Metal implants in the body, including joint replacements, plates, screws, and rods, can set off metal detectors at the airport. For many years, patients were given wallet-sized cards from their doctor to inform the security personnel of their implanted metal.

However, these cards are not needed, and seldom issued by physicians any longer. The reality is that security personnel will handle the fact that your implant set off the metal detector the same, regardless of whether or not you have an identification card. Patients with pacemakers are asked (but not required) to carry an ID card, but patients with orthopedic implants, including joint replacements, do not need a special identification card.

What happens when I set off the metal detector?

If your implanted metal sets off an airport metal detector, you will be asked to proceed with a secondary screening. This may consist of using a wand or a pat-down to ensure that the metal is inside your body.

Related: Statement from the TSA: Metal Implants | Will I set off metal detectors?

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September 23, 2013 at 6:32 am
(1) Alessio Ventura says:

I had a total shoulder replacement in March 2011, followed by a reverse total shoulder replacement in May 2012, which became necessary when I fell on my shoulder after the first replacement. After the reverse total shoulder replacement (RTSR), I had physical therapy in the home. After a week of therapy, the pain was increasing, not decreasing, so I went in for an x-ray. The surgeon who had done the RTSR studied the xray and determibed that I had a fractured Greater Tuberosity. He said it was likely my fault because I had been moving my arm.

Now, is it unheard of to have a Greater Tuberosity break post RTSR, or is it not unusual? It was very painful and it extended my recovery for a fair amount of time.

I still have great pain in the shoulder as of Sep 2013, but the surgeons cannot see anything obvious as the fracture has since healed on its’ own, and the fluid xtraction (with flush) that they cultured is negative for infection. The pain is constant at about a Level 5 on a 10 scale. One theory is that impingement occurs with certain movements, either on tissue or bone; if on bone the pain will subside over time as the bone is scraped.

Can anyone out there suggest something? The pain is enormous and I cannot concentrate at work. HELP!

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