Medical Q&As

Metal implant - trigger alarm system?

Whenever my friend goes though the screening at airports she always beeps and has to be taken off to the side to be checked by hand held scanners. She thinks she has something in her body that causes it but doesnít know what. Itís embarrassing for her and she wonders if there is something she can do.

You do not give any indication of your friendís age and indicate if she has ever undergone surgery. Several surgical procedures now involve implanting metal devices in the body, which might trigger the alarm in the scanning system. For example a person with a cardiac pacemaker will usually trigger the alarm system although I hasten to add that the scanners do not represent any threat to the effective and safe working of the pacemaker. Metal orthopaedic plates or fittings might have a similar effect. Apart from such procedures I cannot account for the reasons why this might be happening to your friend. It is very difficult to access specific information about the reasons for false alarms with security scanners because of the security implications of such information being readily available.