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titanium mesh/ screws going through security

Charlottesville...
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titanium mesh/ screws going through security

I recently had neurosurgery and now have titanium mesh and screws in my head (gives new meaning to having a screw loose!). I've read the "rules" but also know TSA agents don't always act consistently. Has anyone seen someone or experienced going through security with a similar situation and, if so, other than needing a patdown has there been any trouble? I am flying in 3 weeks and trying to make sure I am prepared. Thanks so much for your help!

South Pole
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1. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

have a relation who travelled from the usa to see us in sydney and had a 'metal yard' in her leg as a result of a car accident..

she set off the security alarm in some airports and was taken aside for a wand down. but her scarring was obvious and there was no further action after the secondary search.

just in case ( and i am being ultra fussy here) do u have a small xray of the area or maybe a letter from your surgeon to take?

Charlottesville...
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2. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

Lien- I didn't think about an x-ray. I've read in several places that the medical cards/letters don't help (concern being that anyone could fake a card if they wanted to). I guess anyone could probably fake or buy an x-ray. But it's worth a try :-). Thanks!

South Pole
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3. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

yes i suppose letters xrays can be faked.

but then again who would try to be hiding something in their head?

common sense should apply.

but common sense and TSA may not be always mutual.

let's know how u got on.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

my sister has titanium pins & screws in her ankle (she did a good job of it when she tripped down 2 steps ....) and always, without fail, makes the walk-through thingy beep and has to be scanned with the wand. She never carries anything with her though to explain and hasn't had any real problems anywhere we've travelled to/from :-) (not so far anyway - I've probably buggered it for her now .....)

Yorktown, Virginia
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for Machu Picchu
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5. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

I suspect it depends on the quantity of metal you are "carrying". I have a couple of titanium screws in my knee & have never set off an alarm.

My elderly mother forgot to mention her hip & knee replacements & really set the alarms ringing. She did get the pat-down treatment (with apologies from the TSA agent) & went on her way. The next year she flew, she informed them BEFORE going through the metal detector & got the pat-down instead of going through the machine (again with apologies!).

The new scanners will probably show the metal -- well-trained TSA agents should recognize it for what it is (medical-related, not terroristic), if there are any.

So, you might set off the alarms, you might not.......

Edited: 09 May 2012, 05:02
San Francisco...
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6. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

just had neurosurgery two weeks ago. i have a small titanium plate and a mere 6 titanium screws. I'm off to Turkey in September and asked my surgeon (only half joking) if I would end up in a Turkish prison (midnight express, anyone?) and he told me no, i wouldn't trip the alarms.

so the person to ask might be your neurosurgeon--only he knows how much you have inside your head!

bon voyage!

Edited: 09 May 2012, 05:22
Cirencester, United...
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7. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

My husband has two titanium (I think) hip replacements, also a metal plate in his jaw, he always sets off the alarm, which results in a pat-down at most airports, only once was he actually taken away to be examined behind a screen. Usually he gives a brief explanation about the hips, jaw etc. He has thought about getting a doctor's note, but we don't think it would mean the end of the pat-downs. The rest of the family just makes sure he goes through last, so we can collect up all our belongings (and his) that have gone through the x-ray machine!

Detroit, MI
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8. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

Doctors notes and x-rays are useless. TSA won't look at them and would not be qualified to evaluate an x-ray anyway.

Do you have bandages, wounds or scars? This could be a flag for a pat down. They are not supposed to remove bandages, but they are famous for trying to make you do things you are not supposed to.

The metal detector may not pick up the titanium depending on how sensitive it is set and the amount of metal. Titanium is only slightly magnetic, so it would pass through much easier than if you had iron screws in your head. ;) Rivets, buttons, zippers, etc. pass through all the time without alarm, so a small amount is OK. I also understand the location when passing the gate matters - it is more likely to alarm on something close to the side vs. in the middle of the arch.

If you are lucky enough to get a metal detector line, I would not say a word until you alarm. There is a good chance you will get through unmolested.

If you are forced into a scanner, I understand the Backscatter (blue box machines) that use x-rays can penetrate flesh slightly, so it is possible they could see something under your skin. The Millimeter Wave (white and clear rounded machines) don't penetrate skin. Posting the airports you will be traveling through and airlines will help identify what type of checkpoints you will encounter.

You can always opt out of the scanners or metal detector even without a medical reason.

You might want to post over at flyertalk (Travel Safety & Security forum) - there is much more traffic there and probably several people that have similar metal in their bodies that can give real world experience.

Maryland
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9. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

Put this in some perspective: You will not be the first person through the line that day with pins or screws or whatever. The security staff will have seen this 12 times every day when they come to work, it's not like it's a novelty. It might be for you, but not for them.

I wouldn't worry about it other than mentioning it if you set off the alarm.

Bangkok, Thailand
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10. Re: titanium mesh/ screws going through security

Dont worry, I have 12 titanium clips in my body. Not once in 15 years since surgery did the alarm go off when I went thru security. Not sure if they would show when going thru a body scanner as they show up on xrays.

Edited: 09 May 2012, 15:53