One part of the Interstim therapy that takes getting used to is the fact that you have a little device inside your body that will set off security systems and that the device can potentially be ruined by some security systems.  In knowing this, Interstim provides all implanted patients with a nice little medical card that states that “I have a device that may set off your airport/security system.”  Since getting my device implanted, I have had to use this medical card in situations that require me to pass through security systems.  Some security guards at these security checkpoints have been more than professional, some downright rude.

It is important to note that the protocol which I have been instructed to use as an implanted Interstim patient encountering a security system is the following:

1.  Present medical card, explain to the guard that you have an implanted medical device that will trigger security and could be damaged by certain systems.

2.  Ask for a pat down versus going through the security system.

Unfortunately, even with this very polite request, backed up by a medical card, some security guards have been downright befuddled at my request.  On more than one occasion, I am met with the response, “Well this system won’t really impact the device,” or the baffling “I’ll just scan you quickly.”  I have also been refused entry unless I was scanned, after the security guard refused to meet my request for a pat down.  Additionally, I have been embarrassed on more than one occasion as security guards talk in loud tones about my physical situation, inquire why I have the device, and talk about how I can just have the scan done because “this guy over here has a pacemaker in his heart and he never has had a problem going through.”

If you are met with the above situation, where security guards are not accommodating your medical situation, contact Medtronic.  Medtronic will advise you on the second course of action while going through security which is to do the following:

1.  Turn off your device.

2.  Ask for the handheld scanner (no magnets).  I am not even sure if you can go through those huge walk through devices safely.  I never have since being implanted.

3.  Place your hand over the implant.  Advise the security guard that scanning directly on the device will wreck the device, ask them to scan around.

4.  After going through security, turn the device back on.
I am hopeful that as the Interstim surgery and device become more prominently known that the training of security personnel in accommodations for security systems while increase.

Thanks for reading,


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