August 30, 2019
2 min read

Video helps travelers navigate airport security after joint replacement

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The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons released a video on how to go through airport security checkpoints after joint replacement for orthopedic surgeons to share with patients.

“Going through airport security is something that causes our patients a lot of anxiety, and it is one of the top questions joint surgeons hear,” Brett R. Levine, MD, chair of the AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee, told

Since a metal implant will cause the metal detector to alarm, Levine noted patients should inform the TSA officer of the implant in their hip or knee before approaching the screening area. Based on the video, patients will have the option of going through the body scan or undergo a pat-down from a TSA officer. The video noted that patients do not need to carry a note from their doctor with them. Patients who prefer to be discreet about their implant can download a TSA notification card to present to the TSA officer.

“The one thing to remember is good communication with the TSA officer will cause less despair when going through airport security,” Levine said.

Navigating airport security checkpoints after total joint replacement has become easier with advancements in technology, according to a study by Michael A. Mont, MD, and colleagues in Hip International in 2018. The study, which surveyed 52 patients who underwent total hip replacement and passed through U.S. airport security after January 2014 when new body scanners and Automatic Target Recognition software was installed at security checkpoints, showed 20% of patients reported their prosthesis triggered a metal detector and 40% reported the presence of surgical hardware elsewhere in the body.

Among the patients who triggered an airport metal detector, Mont noted only one patient reported undergoing additional measures beyond a standard pat-down and wand screening. In the study, researchers noted 25% of patients felt that having a hip prosthesis increased the inconvenience of airplane travel.

Researchers found significant differences when patients in the current study were compared with a historical cohort of 143 patients with THRs who traveled by air in the United States prior to 2014. Results showed 84% of patients in the historical cohort reported alarms being triggered and 69% of those patients felt that having a joint prosthesis increased the inconvenience of air travel.

“It was a bigger problem years ago, but now ... hip prostheses trigger airport security alarms and are less of a problem than they used to be, which is good news, in some ways, for people with prostheses,” Mont told – by Casey Tingle




Issa K, et al. Hip Int. 2018;doi:10.5303/hipint.5000523.


Johnson AJ, et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012;doi:10.2106/JBJS.K.00864.


Disclosures: Levine and Mont report no relevant financial disclosures.