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Detection of total hip arthroplasties at airport security checkpoints – how do updated security measures affect patients?

Many of my patients are curious about whether or not their hip replacement will trigger security alarms at the airport. This recent study from the US is helpful, and hopefully reassuring!

Introduction

There have been historical reports on the experiences of patients with total hip arthroplasty (THA) passing through standard metal detectors at airports. The purpose of this study was to analyse those who had recently passed through airport security and the incidence of: (i) triggering of the alarm; (ii) extra security searches; and (iii) perceived inconvenience.

Methods

A questionnaire was given to 125 patients with a THA during a follow-up appointment. Those who had passed through airport security after January 2014 met inclusion criteria. A survey was administered that addressed the number of encounters with airport security, frequency of metal detector activation, additional screening procedures utilised, whether security officials required prosthesis documentation, and perceived inconvenience.

Results

51 patients met inclusion criteria. 10 patients (20%) reported triggered security scanners. 4 of the 10 patients stated they had surgical hardware elsewhere in the body. 13 of the 51 patients (25%) believed that having their THA increased the inconvenience of traveling. This is different from the historical cohort with standard metal detectors which patients reported a greater incidence of alarm triggering (n = 120 of 143; p = 0.0001) and perceived inconvenience (n = 99 of 143; p = 0.0001).

Discussions

The percentage of patients who have THA triggering security alarms has decreased. Furthermore, the number of patients who feel that their prosthesis caused traveling inconvenience has decreased. We feel that this decrease in alarms triggered and improved perceptions about inconvenience are related to the increased usage of new technology.

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Types of treatments available at Latham Hip Surgery
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  • Hip Replacement

    Total Hip Replacement or THR is one of the most successful hip operations in orthopaedic surgery. Tens of thousands of hip replacements are performed each year…

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  • Hip Resurfacing

    Hip resurfacing was developed to treat painful arthritis in younger and active patients. It’s now an established technique, and the results are usually excellent in carefully selected patients…

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  • Revision Hip Surgery

    Hip replacement surgery can be life changing for those dealing with pain on a daily basis. Unfortunately, even a replacement hip can wear out…

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  • Hip Replacement

    Total Hip Replacement or THR is one of the most successful hip operations in orthopaedic surgery. Thousands of hip replacements are performed each year…

    Click here to find out more
  • Hip Resurfacing

    Hip resurfacing was developed to treat painful arthritis in younger and active patients. It’s a relatively new technique, but the results are usually excellent…

    Click here to find out more
  • Revision Hip Surgery

    Hip replacement surgery can be life changing for those dealing with pain on a daily basis. Unfortunately, even a replacement hip can wear out…

    Click here to find out more