Metallic orthopaedic implants and airport metal detectors

J Arthroplasty. 2002 Jan;17(1):62-5. doi: 10.1054/arth.2002.28726.


Airport security can detect in vivo metallic implants. We hypothesized that a soft tissue shield and fast transit through archway detectors would decrease implant detectability, whereas greater implant mass would increase detectability. Twelve patients with 8 orthopaedic implants in vivo and 60 trauma and arthroplasty implants in vitro were subjected to standard airport security measures at Stanstead Airport (British Airports Authority), including arch and standard and nonstandard hand-held detectors. Archway detectors failed to detect some implants; hand-held detectors detected almost all implants except an ankle arthroplasty. Positive archway detection was related to implant transit speed through the detection field. The implant mass consistently affected detection in stainless steel and titanium implants, and a 1-inch wax shield had no effect. Patients with metallic implants should prepare routinely with documentation of their implant before traveling through security ports.

MeSH terms

  • Aviation
  • Humans
  • London
  • Metals*
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Security Measures / standards*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Metals