Detection of Total Knee Arthroplasties at Airport Security Checkpoints: How Do Updated Security Measures Affect Patients?

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Airport security measures continue to be updated with the incorporation of the new body scanners and automatic target recognition software. The purpose of this study was analyze the incidence of: (1) triggering the security alarm; (2) extra security searches; (3) perceived inconvenience; and (4) presence of other surgical hardware in those who underwent total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and passed through airport security. A questionnaire was given to 125 consecutive patients with a TKA. Those who passed through airport security after January 2014 were considered for inclusion. A questionnaire was administered that addressed the number of encounters with airport security, metal detector activation, additional screening procedures, and perceived inconvenience. Out of the 125 patients, 53 met inclusion criteria. Out of the 53 patients, 20 (38%) reported that their prosthesis triggered a metal detector. Out of the 20 patients, 8 (40%) who reported triggering of metal detectors also reported the presence of surgical hardware elsewhere in the body. Eighteen of the 53 patients (34%) believed having a TKA was inconvenient for airplane travel. Compared with the historical cohort, alarms were triggered in 70 of 97 patients (p = 0.0001) and 50 of 97 reported inconvenience when traveling (n = 50 of 97 patients; p = 0.04). The incidences of those who underwent TKA triggering alarms and perceiving inconvenience when passing through airport security have decreased from previously published studies. This is most likely due to the recent updates and modifications to screening. As these security measures are modified and implant designs continue to evolve, this is an area of investigation that should continue.

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