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Should I Ask My Doctor For an ID Card to Identify a Metal Implant?


Updated October 29, 2012

id cards airport screening metal

ID cards are not needed at airport security checkpoints.

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Question: Should I Ask My Doctor For an ID Card to Identify a Metal Implant?
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 ID cards from their doctor to inform the security personnel of their implanted metal.
Answer: These ID 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 special identification.

Setting Off a 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.

Some doctors recommend wearing loose fitting clothing so that you can reveal your surgical scar, however, the TSA clearly states that is not necessary. It is not required that clothing be removed or lifted to demonstrate your surgical scar.


TSA: Passengers With Pacemakers, Defibrillators, Other Implanted Medical Devices, & Metal Implants

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