Ask Dr. Wickum: Will my hip implant delay me at the airport?

Airport metal detectors are sensitive to metals, and will detect metal hip implants. Dr. Wickum has tips to insure that your airport security screening goes smoothly.

Hip implant device materials include both plastic and metal. Metals commonly used as orthopedic materials include stainless steel, cobalt chrome, and titanium. Typically, airport screening detectors will identify patients with these metal implants.

There’s nothing you can do to prevent setting off an airport metal detector, but Dr. Wickum does have some tips to make the security screening process a smooth one that doesn’t delay you on your way to your flight.

“The transportation safety administration is aware that implants will set off the metal detector,” he says. “There’s no need to carry a doctor’s note or official card stating that you’ve had a joint replacement, but do tell security personnel that you have an implant, and tell them where it is, before you go through the detector. Typically, security will pass you through, and use their wand over your hip, knee or shoulder. Newer scanners may even eliminate the need to wand you as an extra security measure, because they can actually see the artificial joint on their screens.”

“I tell my patients to give themselves an extra 10 to 15 minutes the first time they try out their new hip at the airport.  So far, all of my patients have reported that it was no big deal at all.”

Follow Dr. Wickum’s tips, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your trip with minimal security delays. Happy travels!

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