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View Full Version : My hardware vs. airport security ...



txmarinemom
06-26-2008, 01:57 PM
Just wanted to let everyone know, the first trip since surgery went well.

I made it through the walk-through scanners at both IAH (Houston) and Boston Logan with no issues at all :). Yay!

When wanded, however, it goes off like crazy: I took my daughter to the Houston Police Dept to pick up an accident report a few weeks ago and you should have seen everyone's head whip around at all the noise - LOL ... (they wand everyone coming through the doors).

Regards,
Pam

Suzy
06-26-2008, 02:19 PM
I had a security guard wand me at our state fair just to see if it would go off after no alarms at the airport. I was curious. Yup, hand wands do catch our metal yet no airport I have been in has gone off. Darn, I was looking for some excitement at the airport........ From what others have told me hip replacements set off the airport alarms every time.

dolores a
06-26-2008, 02:49 PM
Makes you wonder about the security at an airport vs. security at a fair though! LOL (but not really)

Janet
06-26-2008, 04:41 PM
I was wanded at JFK 5 months ago, and no problem ( I didn't go thru the regular walk-thru because I was in a wheelchair).

I believe that JFK has, quite understandably, very high security requirements, much more so than other airports I've been thru. So I am surprised that at other venues the wand picks up the metal. I think the security devices can be "tuned" as the security entity sees fit, but to think that JFK's wand didn't go off astonishes me!

debbei
06-26-2008, 05:06 PM
Do you ladies have titanium or stainless steel? I wonder if there is a difference as far as detection by those machines. I'm thinking you all have titanium, and I know Dr. N wants to use SS on me.

sccrm08
06-26-2008, 05:15 PM
I have SS and never get through Airport security with out setting all the alarms off. However that being said, I just returned home from a cruise last Sunday and had to go through security every time we got on the ship and it never once went off. This did not make me or the other 30 people I was traveling with feel very good about there medal detectors and security. At one port they were wanding people before we got back to the ship and the line was backing up and when I got close to the front, I was waved through with out being wanded. Who knows what they were looking for :confused:

txmarinemom
06-26-2008, 07:55 PM
Do you ladies have titanium or stainless steel? ...

Neither ... I have Vitallium (a proprietary cobalt/chromium/moly alloy).

Titanium or 316 SS/316L SS (or Vitallium) shoudn't matter, anyway. Anything that conducts electricity *should* break the scan field ...

Regards,
Pam

laurieg6
06-27-2008, 12:57 AM
My family and I just returned from a trip to the East Coast. We went through security at SeaTac Airport (Seattle) and at Newark Airport (NJ) and Alexander's hardware never set off any alarms. He just walked right through the scanners like the rest of us. We were very relieved, especially me, because I'm the one who reads about all the potential problems on this forum.

His hardware is stainless steel and he is a skinny, young kid...

txmarinemom
06-27-2008, 08:51 AM
His hardware is stainless steel and he is a skinny, young kid...

Yep, I have read that thoracic fusions (of any material type) are more prone to set off scanners simply because the hardware is closer to the surface.

And with smaller-framed people, it's even closer. Laurieg, I too was relieved when they didn't go off ... I arrived a full 3 hours before my 6:30 a.m. departing flight out of Houston, and 2 hours before my 5:30 a.m. return from Boston (just to cover any delays at security).

I should have slept in, but I was SO (unrealistically, in this case) freaked by the prospect of trying to explain things to TSA. As it turns out, I just told them going in I had hardware ... and their response is "If we need to, we can get you through by other measures.".

They were really quite cooperative, and I was pleasantly surprised :).

Regards,
Pam

JoAnn5
06-27-2008, 09:03 AM
I had no problems last year when i travelled internationally, even with the wanding.

abhbarry
06-27-2008, 10:55 AM
I'm glad to see this thread because I had travelled recently and set off the metal detectors at Milwaukee and San Francisco, but not Vegas. Makes you wonder about different levels of security. I showed the security guard in Milwaukee copies of my x-rays and he said, "That won't help you young lady." They then preceeded to wand me and pat me down and the woman said, "You have metal up and down your back." I just laughed at her and said, "Yes, this is what I've been trying to tell you!" :) Silly people. My surgeon told me i wouldn't set off any alarms, but obviously that is not true. It is generally not a big deal though.

Best,
Anya

Diane BCSW
06-27-2008, 12:26 PM
This sounds like a fun thread. Following the original surgery, I've had several flights, all originating out of Dallas, and most all taken during various recuperations. The only time I set off an alarm was in Houston and it wasn't me exactly, but my brace. I was so used to it, I just failed to remember I had it on. They merely called me over, I took off the brace, they wanded and examined it, and then wanded me with no alarms. Most times, I've just told them up front that I have hardware and normally, I walk through the security gate and have no alarms go off. All of these flights have been with Southwest even going to New Hampshire. In late August last summer just prior to the 5th surgery, I flew with my daughter and her family to Seattle for an Alaskan cruise. I didn't set off any alarms at the airport or at the ship. I had bought and taken with me my newly purchased Pink walker. If anyone needs a walker and would like it to be pink with the pink fight-cancer ribbons decaled, go to ebay and do a search. It is a regular brand name walker, but this lady has started a company that takes handicapped devices and jazzes them up. I believe she told me that the manufacturer painted the walkers for her. That walker saved my lunch on the cruise and I feel pretty sure that one of these days, I'll be needing its services again, not for pre-surgery, but just in general.

skoshi314
06-27-2008, 11:03 PM
Ok, it sounds like I still might have a shot at the strip search! I'm just kidding, my meds are making me feel a little goofy and thought I'd share the good mood. Right now they are few and far between so this is a treat! (I certainly hope I didnt offend anyone!):D

txmarinemom
06-27-2008, 11:42 PM
Ok, it sounds like I still might have a shot at the strip search! I'm just kidding, my meds are making me feel a little goofy and thought I'd share the good mood. Right now they are few and far between so this is a treat! (I certainly hope I didnt offend anyone!):D

Girl, a shot at a strip search is the closest thing to a date I've got - LMAO!!

NancyB
01-27-2009, 10:46 PM
I traveled to Israel last year with no alarms going off. When we went to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, our tour guide asked for anyone with metal in their body to come to the front of the line. I told him that I had never set off an alarm, not even in the Tel Aviv airport, but he said he still wanted to disclose it up front. When I walked through with no alarms, my tour guide laughed and said that I had just made it through one of the tightest security points in the world.

titaniumed
01-27-2009, 11:56 PM
I've heard about security in Israel. It is the tightest in the world. Very high tech.


Pams quote;
Girl, a shot at a strip search is the closest thing to a date I've got - LMAO!!

I had a situation out at O'Hare in Chicago a few years back right after 911. The lines were long, and things were running slow, and the security lady was picking up the rivets in my jeans with her wand, that were in my crotch area. After wanding my crotch area a few times, she had this puzzled look on her face and knew that something had to be done. She then said "take it off" meaning my belt, and I motioned and said "no problemo" as if I was going to drop trow. She then panicked and said "don't do it", "you almost made my day" and the 500 people behind me that were watching, erupted in laughter.

It was a classic moment............................

It should have been on film.

I have not flown yet, but I know one thing for sure, its going to be interesting.
Ed

Sharshe
01-28-2009, 10:53 AM
When we flew from Newark NJ to Cancun in the fall I had no problem with security. Hopefully things will go as smooth when we fly Philly to Phoenix this spring. Dr Anderson says Titanium is less likely to set off the detectors. Though the amount I have he said there was always a chance.
After 9-11 when we flew to AZ I had capris on with 2 teeny bells on the belt tie. That set off alarms and the MP ended up frisking me:rolleyes:

Qikdraw
01-28-2009, 01:28 PM
I've never set off any alarms and I've done a lot of flying in the last 25 years. I still have the card I got that said I may set them off though. Just in case. :D

Pooka1
01-28-2009, 04:11 PM
We have flown twice, so four times through security at four different airports.

My daughter's hardware set it off every time. She was wanded every time.

I was told no card would help. I strongly suspect she will be wanded the rest of her life. Could be worse and I'm not complaining. I'm just saying she is batting 1000.

We will go on a trip this spring out of the country. This is the trip that was cancelled so she could have her surgery last spring. I expect at least two more wandings, maybe more.

WNCmom
01-28-2009, 08:07 PM
My son, very thin, and fused (a long fusion) a little less than 3 months ago, has flown twice since and not set off an alarm yet. I expected him to, since the instrumentation has so little "padding" over it.

I wonder what causes it to go off for some and not for others. Perhaps it's the airport. We flew into and out of the same airport both times.

laurieg6
01-28-2009, 08:12 PM
My son has stainless steel rods and screws and we have flown to Florida, New York, Chicago, Detroit (all my extended family is on the East Coast/Midwest and my own little family lives on the West Coast).

He has never set off any alarms since the surgery. He did set off alarms once while wearing his brace prior to the surgery.

Pooka1
01-28-2009, 09:11 PM
We have flown twice, so four times through security at four different airports.

That's wrong. It's three airports total... NC, WI, and NYC.

Sherie
01-29-2009, 11:12 AM
We've traveled back and forth from Houston to St. Louis twice since surgery. Sheena's set off the alarms at both airports every time and had to be wanded and patted down. I wonder if it's the amount of hardware? She has 26 screws, 2 rods (however long from T4-L4, I'd guess about 16") and 2 cross brackets, all stainless. That's a lot of metal plus she's thin. We're planning a trip to Japan this summer, hopefully it won't be a big issue over there.

HGD24
02-06-2009, 02:27 PM
I don't know what type of metal I have, but I have set every airport walk-through detector off except for Shannon, Ireland & Newark, NJ. I've been through quite a few large cities on the East and West coasts as well as Heathrow and they've all gone off. My surgeon also told me I shouldn't have a problem, but it's happened 98% of the time that I travel. It makes for very interesting converstaions with the TSA agents when they realize how much hardware I've got in me :)

txmarinemom
02-06-2009, 03:41 PM
I've always laughed (not to TSA, of course ... sense of humor there is questionable) if they'd just roll me through the scanner behind my purse, things would be a WHOLE lot easier.

BTW, since this thread started, I'm made several other trips (one to Miramar/San Diego to see my son, then Suzy and I flew from San Diego to Salt Lake City on the same flight): Neither one one us set off the detectors.

I was fine from Salt Lake City to IAH (Houston), and I'm pretty sure she was fine going home also.

What's funny is you can CLEARLY feel my hardware at the L1 attachment point. It couldn't GET any closer to the scan field unless it were on the *outside* of my skin.

Sherie, I'd be interested to hear about your Japan trip if you go before me. I'm planning to fly into Naha via Tokyo to see my son on Okinawa this summer/fall ;-).

Regards,
Pam

fierceliketiger
02-06-2009, 04:42 PM
I can officially join the club .now. I went to the courthouse on wednesday and was wanded, I explained beforehand that I would probably set off their alarms. They were not in the least interested in my card. My brace set it off, as well as the rods...I had to remove all my layers...eventually they turned the wand to vibrate. :o

txmarinemom
02-07-2009, 10:15 AM
I can officially join the club .now. I went to the courthouse on wednesday and was wanded, I explained beforehand that I would probably set off their alarms. They were not in the least interested in my card. My brace set it off, as well as the rods...I had to remove all my layers...eventually they turned the wand to vibrate. :o

FLT,

What I was told at the Houston courthouse is the wand scanners emit a different sound for guns - and they weren't concerned when the fusion hardware (and the screws in my ankle) set it off.

I think the woman wanding me was actually having fun: She took her time moving along the length of my fusion, and definitely didn't turn it to vibrate (and those little suckers are *loud*- LOL!).

Best guess is she was having a slow day.

When it started screeching, I'd estimate everyone within range whiplashed themselves turning to stare - and probably wondered "???" when they saw us all standing there in fits of giggles. ;-)

And, no ... they don't care about cards or letters from your surgeon. I suppose in this digital age, anyone could easily create their own. A lot of surgeons aren't even aware of this, and still issue them to patients.

Regards,
Pam

Qikdraw
02-08-2009, 10:11 PM
I can officially join the club .now. I went to the courthouse on wednesday and was wanded, I explained beforehand that I would probably set off their alarms. They were not in the least interested in my card. My brace set it off, as well as the rods...I had to remove all my layers...eventually they turned the wand to vibrate. :o

hehe :)

When I was released from the hospital I had to fly home, I was 2 weeks after surgery and I go through the scanners and sure enough all the steel in the brace set it off. Well security definately had their time with me. Everytime they hit a brace rod with the hand scanner they would grab it and give it a good shake. I'm surprised my mother didn't have a heart attack. I did show them my card, and told them I had just had back surgery, but they didn't seem to care at all.

My poor mother though. She was in fits. :(

(This was back in '83)

Suzy
02-13-2009, 12:28 AM
Hi all,

I just got back from another trip and still no alarms! I flew from Sacramento to Cabo San Juan Lucas, Mexico. Sac alarms never go off...
On the way home I noticed they were wanding everyone before letting you walk outside to board the plane. I turned to my girlfriend and said "This should be interesting!" (I had a security guard wand me at our state fair 6 months post-op to see if it would go off, it did.) I was wanded front then turned around for the back wanding, bracing myself, and NOTHING! WTH? Was the thing even on or just for show? Makes you wonder huh? I was shocked to say the least. What did people bring on the plane that the lame wanding did not catch?

On another note just for your amusement... As we checked into customs in Sac, I over heard the 1st officer say to the customs officer "That is my Nephews passport, I must have grabbed it by mistake." I almost snorted out loud, this guy was in the cockpit! Don't you think he should know to check his passport? OMG! Mexico.........LOL!

P.S. Yes Pam, no issue leaving Utah to head home either.

asccbodypro
02-13-2009, 01:59 PM
:DEnjoy those meds...might as well get somethings a little enjoyable out of all of this!

LindaRacine
08-22-2009, 11:59 AM
A definitive study:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17403795?ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007 Apr;89(4):742-6.Click here to read Links
Detection of orthopaedic implants in vivo by enhanced-sensitivity, walk-through metal detectors.
Ramirez MA, Rodriguez EK, Zurakowski D, Richardson LC.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Shapiro 2, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

BACKGROUND: Since the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attack, airports worldwide have heightened their security standards in efforts to discourage terrorist attacks. Patients have become increasingly concerned about whether their metallic implants will set off airport metal detectors. The purpose of this study was to assess rates of detection of various orthopaedic implants by airport detectors with the new security sensitivities. METHODS: One hundred and twenty-nine volunteers with a total of 149 implants were asked to walk through an M-Scope three-zone metal detector at two sensitivity settings. Low sensitivity was equivalent to the United States Transportation Security Administration setting for regular security, and high sensitivity was equivalent to its standard for high security. RESULTS: Of the 149 implants in 129 patients who were screened, eighty-four (56%) were trauma hardware, including intramedullary nails, plates, screws, and Kirschner wires, and sixty-five (44%) were arthroplasty implants. Seventy-seven (52%) of the 149 implants were detected by the metal detector at one or both settings. Multivariate analysis revealed that the type (p < 0.001), material (p < 0.001), and location (p < 0.001) of the implant were independent predictors of detection. The overall rate of detection was 88% for prosthetic replacements compared with 32% for plates, with the likelihood of detection being fifteen times greater (odds ratio = 15.0, 95% confidence interval = 5.9 to 39.1) for the prosthetic replacements. All total hip replacements and 90% of the total knee replacements were detected at the low-sensitivity setting. Intramedullary nails and Kirschner wires were not detected. The overall detection rate was 67% for implants in the lower extremity, 17% for those in the upper extremity, and 14% for those in the spine. The detection rate for implants in the lower extremity was ten times higher than that for implants in the upper extremity and eleven times higher than that for implants in the spine. CONCLUSIONS: More than half of all orthopaedic implants may be detected by metal detectors used at commercial airports. Total joint prostheses will routinely set off the detector, whereas nails, plates, screws, and wires are rarely detected. Cobalt-chromium and titanium implants are more likely to be detected than stainless-steel implants.

Pooka1
08-22-2009, 12:14 PM
Interestingly, though my daughter set the detector off 100% of the time at various in the past, she didn't set it off at any point on our trip to NYC.

I conclude they are at a lower security level and tuned the sensitivity down this summer compared to previous times when we flew.

titaniumed
08-22-2009, 01:30 PM
The signal readings have to do with mass and density. The hip and knee prosthetics use a ball shape approx 1.25 dia, where our screws are of a much smaller size and mass.

Implants that are used down low in the body will naturally have to have more mass and density due to the increased loads. The screws used for skull plates are very tiny.

And now the comedy,
Cucumbers can set off detectors also. LOL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjXkOplqrWo

Ed

Pooka1
08-22-2009, 01:45 PM
Classic clip. :D

The movie reviewer for New Yorker magazine said "This is Spinal Tap" is arguably the funniest movie ever made.

I love all the mockumentaries and don't understand how the actors got through some scenes without laughing.

titaniumed
08-22-2009, 03:06 PM
Sharon

When you have scoliosis, those spinal t-shirts really grab your attention.
Its like, wow I "really" like that.

Its hard to explain.

Like #11

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll7rWiY5obI

Ed

Pooka1
08-22-2009, 06:26 PM
That's a good one.

I don't understand how they sing some of these lyrics without laughing...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0hyExZ9Dfo

:D:D:D:D

Also, this one...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRRTc_3PGWE&feature=related

naptown78
08-22-2009, 11:40 PM
I have flown on 6 flights since my surgery. Have made the security alarms go off every time when I walk through. I just say I have had recent back surgery with lots of hardware and they find a female guard to wand me. Or some airports just have you scanned in a new booth they have. No big deal really. Just say something before you walk through. Just a little entertainment for the passengers.

titaniumed
08-23-2009, 12:49 AM
Sharon,

That's deadpan. It comes from being depressed, from being too serious.

Mike Meyers is quite a serious person when he isn't doing comedy. I've read that when he does a film, the other actors actually get physically sick from the laughter. Most of the time they(comics)don't even think or realize its funny.

Its a release that comes naturally.

I can relate as I do the same thing. I can be dead serious at work, or I'm on a roll. That's how I blew my belly button out.

I will admit, I'm not depressed at all about my scoliosis. That is something I initially had to deal with as a child. I came to a psychological resolution, back in 1975. After all the stress of the diagnosis and the doom and gloom of it all, I figured that it wasn't worth worrying about it mentally. I steamrolled through everything I wanted to do, and scoliosis wasn't going to stop me. Yes, the pain was there all along, but I never got depressed about it. I put that big wall up a long time ago and its been there ever since.

My knees hurt from skiing all these years. Now that's depressing being a skier. Its the next thing I will have to deal with, hopefully my belly button will hold up.

Sometimes you just have to laugh at your problems.....

Ed

Pooka1
08-23-2009, 03:25 PM
I will admit, I'm not depressed at all about my scoliosis. That is something I initially had to deal with as a child. I came to a psychological resolution, back in 1975. After all the stress of the diagnosis and the doom and gloom of it all, I figured that it wasn't worth worrying about it mentally. I steamrolled through everything I wanted to do, and scoliosis wasn't going to stop me. Yes, the pain was there all along, but I never got depressed about it. I put that big wall up a long time ago and its been there ever since.


I think I understand this only from the point of view of a parent.

The scoliosis diagnosis was bad and being told my one kid needed surgery was worse. I had to accept those things and didn't have a choice w.r.t. the surgey. So that lightened the load a bit.

But for some reason, the absolute lowest, most despondent, worst I have felt was simply reading of a symptom of a connective tissue disorder. Both my girls had the characteristic blue sclera for a few months when they were infants but the pediatrician told me not to worry... that it probably wasn't anything if I didn't have people in my family with a connective tissue disorder. Well I didn't as far as I knew.

The blue sclera PLUS all their symptoms... it seemed inescapable. It is still painful to recall that.

They have something going on. Because of that, I like to think of the scoliosis as alerting us to this other more problematic thing that requires monitoring. If they ever develop heart/aorta symptoms, we will know it very early, the key to successful treatment. The scoliosis may have saved their lives.

Anyway, that's how I look at it theses days. I also really admire your approach, Ti Ed and try to be that way also. :)

theizzard
08-23-2009, 09:23 PM
I just flew to St. John, USVI and set off the cow bells each time. They then have a female guard wand me and pat me down front and back. I also have two hip replacements along with my spine but I think it's the wire in my bra that actually sets it off.
avis

Linda W
08-24-2009, 08:52 PM
Avis,

Our first "real family vacation" since my surgery was a trip to Las Vegas and the National Parks of Utah (Zion and Bryce) and Arizona (North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon) last month. We flew out of Boston's Logan Airport. I told them before going through the security check point that I had a fusion with plenty of metal and might set off the alarm. They told me to "go for it" and to see what happened. Well, all the alarms sounded pretty loud to me and the passengers around me. The security guard who "wanded" me told me about her sister who has scoliosis and asked me lots of questions about my surgery while my husband and son were cooling their heels and lots of people looked on! Coming home through Las Vegas, the alarms were quiet. I guess in this economy that they need all the gamblers they can get and are not too choosy. I only gambled a $1 and lost ALL of it! My husband also gambled a dollar, and he won $10 -- enough for coffee for each of us at Starbucks.

Sleeping on different mattresses, sitting in a different car seat for 1300 miles and walking on more uneven surfaces than I am used to made my back and hip pretty unhappy. The jaw dropping beauty of what we saw, however, made it worth it. A facet block with cortisone into S1 when we returned also helped. I never could have done the trip if I had not had the surgery. Thank you Dr. Rand!

Linda