Airport metal detectors

I travel a lot. Often 3-4 airports a week and once a month outside the country. I've got an ICD/pacemaker and I'm paced about 95% of the time. 

For the first few months I was very diligent at showing my card and waiting to go through the back-scatter machines or get the pat down service at the security checks.

But then one day, I decided to walk through the upright to see what would happen... would I set it off? would my pacing stop? Would it shock me?  I closed my eyes, winced, and went through with no issue.  I spoke to an Abbot St Jude rep on the phone and they told me that nobody had ever reported being shocked (inappropriate ICD fire) or disabled by walking through a metal detector at an airport. They said the biggest risk is that the PM turns off for a second (like during programming) and you miss a beat.

So, for the last month I have been using the regular metal detector with no issues. I like to make sure my HR is low (in the 60's) in case I miss a beat, but I haven't noticed a thing. Now I don't wince, I just smile. 

Am I crazy?  Is there any hard data or experience that would scare me back to waiting for the secondary screening?



by Swangirl - 2019-04-11 01:27:02

The brochure with my St. Jude PM said to walk through the regular metal detector and my cardiologist also said to do that.  I've done that several times with no problem.  When they ask me if I have any metal in my body I say "no".  The older models might have set off the alarms bu the newer ones don't 

Actually the newer devices are more plastic than metal.  My son works for a company that makes the high grade polymers that are in these devices.  

not crazy!

by Tracey_E - 2019-04-11 10:29:19

I had 20+ years of pat downs at the airports. I was told when I got my newest one (on my 5th) it's no longer necessary to avoid metal detectors. The alloy they use doesn't set them off, and as you were told, the very worst that can happen is a missed beat. They are very well shielded so even that isn't likely. 

Airport Security

by Exactly - 2019-04-11 16:03:29

I was told not to go thru the reg. security but to insist on the one that scans around you. I got a new ICD in Nov. and nothing different was said about this. I cruise quite often, I just tell them when I am boarding and they do a hand search/wand. Same at the airport, I just say I need to go thru the circular scanner & I've never shown a card or been denied. It seems there are many people who require this treatment, i.e. metal hip replacements/knee replacements. I get thru quicker and it's never a big deal. I will call Metronic and see what's up. EP's seem to provide very little info except on the day of implant. I used to worry about it, hate it, not want to be an exception but now I don't care at all. It seems to just be easier, faster, and less hassle the way I've been doing it. Wouldn't you think somebody @EP office would have said SOMETHING???


metal detectors

by dwelch - 2019-04-12 01:02:49

They wont hurt you nor the device, it might set it off or not.  I usually tell them it used to get me into the shorter line but that doesnt work anymore.  I have gone through not gone through.  had pacers for over 30 years, an early doc said not to worry about it and I have not...

BTW, no you are not crazy...At worst you may upset the trained personell if your device sets off the detector and then you tell them... I had one get unhappy with me but seemed to be more upset with me taking some risk.  Didnt search my bag or anything for punishment...


by Tracey_E - 2019-04-12 10:00:50

TSA used to tell us not to go through so they'd get annoyed if we went through then told them later. Now the signs have changed, they say if you have medical devices, consult your doctor,  so they should be less cranky if we set it off. But I haven't set it off to test the theory lol

I've never set it off, tho. I started walking through about 3 years ago and fly at least once a month. I've also walked through at concerts, cruises, amusement parks, courthouses. After so many years of pat downs, I was a little paranoid walking through at first but so far no issues. 

Same no issues.

by Pacedmyruns - 2019-04-15 04:39:24

I did what you did. Winched the first time I went through. Nothing. Even my doctor said it was safe twice! 

Same - but watch for the wand

by RocketTom - 2019-04-28 16:18:19

No problems here. I recently retired but would travel quite a bit while working. When traveling abroad, I would inform the gate if they used the magnetometer I have a PM and would get a pat down. (Never really trusted ones outside the U.S.!) My doctors advise was to walk through, don't stop. There's never been a problem.

The problem with the wand is the field winds up being more localized and closer to the body, so the effect on the PM can be stronger than the walkthrough. It's OK to pass it over the PM, but don't let them stop on it or wave it back and forth over it too many times.

You know you're wired when...

Your electric tooth brush interferes with your device.

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It is just over 10 years since a dual lead device was implanted for complete heart block. It has worked perfectly and I have traveled well near two million miles internationally since then.