We performed a questionnaire study to establish the frequency and consequences of the detection of orthopaedic implants by airport security and to help us advise patients correctly. All published literature on this subject is based on experimental studies and no ‘real-life’ data are available.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
A total of 200 patients with a variety of implants were identified. All patients were sent a postal questionnaire enquiring about their experience with airport security since their surgery.
Of the cohort, 154 (77%) patients responded. About half of the implants (47%) were detected, but the majority of patients (72%) were not significantly inconvenienced. When detected, only 9% of patients were asked for documentary evidence of their implant. We also found that patients with a total knee replacement (TKR) had a greater chance of detection as compared to those with a total hip replacement (THR; 71% versus 31%; P = 0.03).
All patients, and in particular those with a TKR, can be re-assured that, although they have a fair chance of detection by airport security, a major disruption to their journey is unlikely. We advise that documentation to prove the presence of an orthopaedic implant should be offered to those who are concerned about the potential for inconvenience, but such documentation is not required routinely.
Keywords: Airport security, Orthopaedic implants, Metal detectors