Video Helps Passengers With Joint Replacements Clear Security

The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) produced a video to help patients with joint replacements navigate airport security checkpoints.

Total joint replacements are among the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. Surgeons complete more than 700,000 total knee replacements and 400,000 hip replacements per year across America (CNN). While artificial joints offer benefits such as restored mobility and pain relief, metal implants can create unique challenges for airline travel. 

More than 90 percent of implanted total hip and knee arthroplasty devices will activate metal detectors at airports. This occurrence can cause frustration for TSA officers, embarrassment for patients and unnecessary delays for air passengers.

The new video is designed to inform joint replacement patients of strategies to communicate with TSA officers and streamline security screening areas of airports. In an interview with, Brett R. Levine, M.D., Chair, AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee, said the first thing patients should do is promptly inform the TSA officer about their metal implant.

Communicate Promptly With TSA

Patients may either inform the TSA member verbally or may present a TSA notification card if they wish to be discreet. There is no need to carry a note from a physician. Notification cards can be downloaded from TSA here

TSA officers will offer patients the option of going through the body scan machine or undergoing a pat-down. The AAHKS suggests implant patients opt for the body scan machine, but a pat-down around the artificial joint may still be necessary.

Checklist to Quickly Get Through TSA

If you have just had total hip replacement or total knee replacement surgery, you can still travel with ease. Here is a quick summary of how to streamline your experience with TSA at the airport:

  1. Take a moment to watch the video and share it with a friend.
  2. Download the TSA Notification Card before you travel. Having the card allows you the option of discreet communication.
  3. Present your boarding pass and photo ID at the first security checkpoint as you normally do.
  4. After you send your carry-on and personal items through the scanner, inform the TSA officer that you have a metal implant.
  5. Opt to go through the body scanner. Alternatively, you may choose a pat-down.
  6. Be patient if the TSA officer asks to use a wand around your artificial joint (Healio).
  7. Enjoy your travel! 

Talk to your doctor if you have a total joint replacement and have concerns about traveling. You can make an appointment before your trip and get answers to your questions.