Hip implants pose a potential inconvenience for airplane travelers

Nearly 70% of patients with hip replacements reported their prosthetic joints were a source of inconvenience when going through airport security screens, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

To alleviate patients’ concerns or anxiety, the findings indicate physicians should counsel patients with these implants to expect delays and inconveniences when using air travel.

According to the study abstract, researchers asked 250 consecutive patients if they had received a hip prosthesis at least 1 year prior and, if so, whether they had flown on a commercial airline within the year. Patients who met both criteria completed a survey noting which joints had been replaced and answered questions about their experiences with airport security measures.

“Of the 143 patients with hip replacements who traveled by air, 120 (84%) reported triggering the alarm and required wanding with a handheld detector,” the authors wrote. “Ninety-nine (69%) of the 143 patients reported that the prosthetic joint caused an inconvenience while traveling.”

According to an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons release, patients who had a single hip implant demonstrated a lower rate of triggering alarms (80%) compared with those who had two hip implants (95%).

The authors concluded that full-body scanners could offer a solution for some of these travelers.


  • Johnson AJ, Naziri Q, Hooper HA, Mont MA. Detection of total hip prostheses at airport security checkpoints: How has heightened security affected patients? J Bone Joint Surg (Am). 2012. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00864
 Link to Article:

Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Spine Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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