IM Nail and Metal Detectors


One thing I forget to mention in my previous updates about the recovery process of having an intramedullary nail (IM Nail) in my lower left leg was my first experience of going through airport security.

About a month ago I went to Spain on a stag do and I was quite intrigued and anticipating when I got to London Gatwick airport to see what would happen when I went through the metal detector. As I stepped through I was waiting for the alarm/beep, but it never came.

I was actually disappointed and wanted the alarm to go off as it would be like a vindication for the pain and having all that metal in my leg.

So, no, an IM Nail does not set off metal detectors at the airport.



10 responses to “IM Nail and Metal Detectors

  • Andrew Richardson

    I found the same thing! – You can walk through the metal detectors fine –

    The pin does set off the “wand” metal detectors though, but the security guard was totally unconcerned by it and waved me through

  • tom

    just read your blog, v.interesting. I have recently left charing cross hospital in hammersmith after spending 4 there breaking my tibia and fibula in an open fracture. I had 4 operations and an IM nail inserted. ive been home 3 weeks now and have just starting to weight bare . I broke my leg in a horrific football tackle and wanted to know if i am able to return to playing football with an nial in my leg ??

    • jakemcmillan

      Hi! Thanks for your comment. You can definitely play football with an IM Nail, but the doctors will be interested to know how often? If you play occasionally in the park then that should not really be a problem but if you want to play regularly in proper competitive games then I expect they will advise the removal of the IM Nail. This is because if you break your leg in another bad tackle they cannot predict how the Nail will react to this. I’m sure if you bring this up at your review consultations they will go through this with you.

      Best of luck with the recovery!

  • Geoff Lott

    I beg to differ, only because my IM nail sets off 99% of the machines in the US. I’ve had mine since 1998, so I’ve dealt with this stuff since pre-9/11 and it’s always been a pain in the ass.
    They look at me like I’m trying to pull one over on them. If I were to dig out my nail and take over the plane, they have to let me land it, right?

    However, when it does NOT go off, don’t step through the machine and yell “YES, IT DIDN’T GO OFF!”

  • Lisa

    I’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Majorca and both times (at Newcastle and Palma) the machine beeped and I was frisked 🙂 – IM rod November 2011.

  • Flipbfc

    Mine only sets off some detectors, presume they have different detection levels or something. Always sets them off in Holland, doesn’t at Luton. Mine is titanium.

  • Simon

    My IM nail also sets them off sometimes, same airport same detector. It must be how sensitive they set them each day.
    When I’m checked the wand always goes off over the screws. I have 3 below the knee and 3 above the ankle. My IM nail is made of titanium.

  • Respected Privacy

    Nearly all nails are surgical grade titanium. Titanium is non-ferrous, metal-detectors are actually magnetism detectors, and all ferrous (IE Iron Based) metals will show up, because they’re affected by magnets. Pure titanium isn’t Iron-based, and thus won’t bother them. The screws used to hold an IM rod in place are often surgical-grade-stainless-steel. It’s only vaguely ferrous, because surgical-grade steel doesn’t have a lot of Iron in it. They will set off the more sensitive detectors, sometimes.

    I’ve never had a problem with the airport metal detectors…. only with the TSA, because apparently being a 6’2 dude with a frustrated “What the hell is the point of this” expression on his face warrants a full pat-down every single goddamned time I fly. Due to this, I always compare greyhound schedules to airline schedules…. I can board a greyhound without some guy cupping my balls, and that makes it worth the extra time to me.

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