Going through airport security with heavy metal in my ankle

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#1
Great White North
3,264 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
I suffered a broken ankle recently (in Honolulu, missing my Hawaii cruise....waaahhh!!!). Anyway, I had surgery and now have "heavy metal" (several large screws, a plate, etc) in my ankle. Is it necessary to obtain a letter from the surgeon to show airport security, to explain why the alarms go off when going through the scanner?
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#2
Hamilton, Ontario
1,786 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
I think that it would be a good idea to have a letter from your doctor. It will probably save you lots of hassles.
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#3
GTA, Ontario, Canada
33,001 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Sorry to hear about your accident
I had a knee replacement I told them about it they send you to the body scan the wand you anyway
I had the letter they never looked at it

Good luck
#4
Tucson, Arizona and San Carlos, Mexico
4,198 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Don't bother with a letter, TSA isn't interested. I have a hip replacement and set off the alarm every now and then. I tell them about the metal in my hip and stand patiently while I get wanded. It's all you can do.
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#7
540 Posts
Joined May 2005
I broke my wrist and have a metal plate and screws etc. and I have never mentioned it to the screener. My doctor told me it was "surgical stainless steel" and would not set off a metal detector and it hasn't.
#8
Texas
1,821 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
No letter neeeded. I broke my ankle badly a couple of years ago (both bones and a dislocation). I had the large screws, metal plate etc. I asked my orthopedic surgeon about setting off airport alarms...he told me it wouldn't happen and not to worry about it. I flew a couple of times with that ankle hardware and never set off anything and was never questioned. All that metal has since been removed and ankle is doing great. Hoping you heal up as quickly as I did. Good Luck!
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#9
Up North and Down South, UK
17,002 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by Laurie S.
Don't bother with a letter, TSA isn't interested. I have a hip replacement and set off the alarm every now and then. I tell them about the metal in my hip and stand patiently while I get wanded. It's all you can do.
Ditto.
A letter can be fabricated.
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#10
Great White North
3,264 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Thanks all for responding. I will not bother with the letter then, judging from others experiences it isn't worth the hassle of trying to get to the surgeon's office (cannot drive right now) or paying for his time to write a letter.
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#11
Fredericton New Brunswick, Canada
3,243 Posts
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i have metal rods in my spine of my back since 1988 and they never ever set off the metal dector. But how when they do the body scan on me usualy i get a extra special pat down.
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#12
Tucson, Arizona and San Carlos, Mexico
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Joined Jul 2009
Shortly after my operation, a TSA supervisor told me it's all based on how quickly you walk through the scanner. He said if you go slowly, it gives the detector time to focus on the metal and beep. You can't run, obviously, but walk through at a steady, not slow, speed. Once I was able to do that after my leg healed, it rarely set off the alarm. He showed me that they're watching a screen and when metal is detected, the alert level escalates on it. If you go slowly, it will peak and alert, if you go faster and steadily, it won't go off.

Of course, all bets are off with the new technology. On my last flight out of DFW, the agents saw the metal in my leg and asked what was in my right pocket. I looked at the screen, said it's not in my pocket and it's my LEFT side. They couldn't even read their own screen properly.
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#13
6,924 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by klfrodo
or,
if you fly often enough you can join the Trusted Traveller program. Google GOES
You still have to go through a metal detector at security.
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#14
At 35,000 feet
9,014 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
From the post title, I was wondering if you were stuffing Motley Crue and Iron Maiden CDs into your boot.
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#15
Virginia
260 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
I'm an orthopedic nurse and can tell you that, like others have sais, TSA will just laugh at the letter. We used to give patients who had joint replacements a card, but since 9-11 that's a no-go.

When you get to security, just tell them what you had done and request to go through the new body scanner. You'd be surprised how many people have metal in their body -- they're used to it!

Hope you fell better!
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#16
St. Paul MN
3,036 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
My friend has had two hip replacements, one knee and one shoulder replacment. When she get to the TSA screen , she just say she is full of metal parts. She sometimes gets get wanded, or the full body screen and is on her way.
#17
Edmonton
2,043 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
I have carried a plate for over 20 years thanks to a multiple fracture incured on a military parachute jump. It has set metal detectors off in the past but only about once out of four scans. It always sets off the wand. 99% of the time they feel the ankle, find nothing and I'm on my way. Only once was I asked to remove my sock for a closer look and that was at YYZ. Once they saw the scar I was on my way. I would think that half the travellers over 60 are sporting some bionic part. It really isn't an issue at all.
#18
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,150 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by klfrodo
or,
if you fly often enough you can join the Trusted Traveller program. Google GOES
And what?

Yo still have to go through security and you still will get wanded/hand searched if you set off the detectors.
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#19
Birmingham, Al
1,006 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
I also broke my ankle and have plate, screws and pins on out side and just pins on the inside. I have never set off an alarm. Dr said he would give me a card verifying it if I wanted it but they didn't pay any attention to them. When you think about it, how easy would they be to counterfeit.
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#20
Great White North
3,264 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by FlyerTalker
From the post title, I was wondering if you were stuffing Motley Crue and Iron Maiden CDs into your boot.
Sorry yes it was a little play on words, I maybe should've put "heavy metal" in quotes or added a wink
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