Airport body scanner & the t:slim, what do you do?

Do you go through the full body scanner with your t:slim attached? Have you ever experienced any problems with your pump after doing so?

I've been on the t:slim pump for about 3 months and recently had my first air travel experience. Prior to traveling, I was told by a Tandem rep that some users request the pat down, while others will go through the body scanner with the pump attached. After looking through Tandem's website for the official word, they are somewhat vague about air travel and don't specifically mention the airport body scanners, but do state that X-rays should be avoided. After some googling, I came across an article that mention body scanners causing malfunctions with insulin pumps. A Tandem spokesperson was quoted in one of them, saying "Like the rest of the insulin pump industry, we recommend the t:slim pump be removed when entering a full body scanner," said Susan Morrison, director of corporate investor relations at Tandem in San Diego. However, that article and quote was from 2012 when they still used X-rays in the body scanners. I believe the body scanners no longer use X-ray technology and instead use millimeter wave technology, so it's a little unclear if the millimeter wave is safe.

Since there wasn't a clear answer, I elected the pat down and did not want to roll the dice and risk a very expensive piece of equipment being damaged at the most inopportune time when I could have avoided it in the first place!

I was quite shocked when 7 different TSA agents at four different airports all told me I could go through the body scanner with my insulin pump, and that people do it "all the time". I told the TSA agents that there was some concern by insulin pump manufactures that the scanners can cause malfunctions. Obviously, there is some conflicting information here between what the TSA is telling their agents and what insulin pump manufacturers are or aren't telling their users. As a frequent traveler, I'd like to avoid the patdowns if at all possible, but I don't know if that's possible since I'm on the t-slim and Dexcom.

I wish Tandem would provide some guidance on this!

I personally stopped running my insulin threw any x-ray or imaging equipment. I remember two years ago I saw something on the new about x-rays and insulin. Before that I alway put it in a tray to get x-rayed then when my sugars spun out of control I just blamed it on jet lag. But after seeing that on the news I started requesting they manually inspect my vials, now he last 5 or 6 flights have been much better.
Now I’m on an insulin pump and a CGM and will definitely not take the chance with this stuff. I don’t think every medical company or Pharmaceutical company has access to x-ray, or millimeter wave technology to do proper studies or testing. And I have never heard of the FDA requiring this testing before approval (funny, they require everything else).

I know I have never had a problem with needles and vials in the past, they just wand me and test the outside of my kit for residue, they even let me in with a small can of apple juice. According to the TSA website it is your right to request a different way instead of walking threw any machine.

If they ever give me a problem maybe I should just say it’s against me religion also. My religion Type1 and my higher power of insulin…

I travel frequently with work, and I always request the pat down. I’m beginning to forge some good relationships with TSA as they see me so much…lol. But they have also told me people go through the scanners and X-rays “all the time” with pumps, but I don’t want to risk it. I think sometimes all people who are not aware of D and insulin pumps can encourage the wrong thing, even if they mean well. Just remember, you are in control and don’t let others coerce you into doing something you are uncomfortable with. Safe travels! :slight_smile:

The user guide (page 13) says it’s safe for airport scanners.

I usually disconnect and put mine in the bin, but I’ve also worn it through the scanner with no issues. TSA is familiar with insulin pumps and generally just swabs them.


Terry, are you referring to:

"Your t:slim Pump, however, has been designed to withstand common electromagnetic interference, including airport and department store security systems."

I read this as its safe to go through the metal detector, but I'm not sure about the body scanner. Have you had any problems with putting the t:slim through the X-ray? Tandem mentions X-rays should be avoided in that same paragraph.

If it was an issue, there would be huge warning labels and trainers would have to make sure the users were aware of it. I've gone through all the usual scanners and never had an issue.

I only assume that "airport security systems" includes body scanners.

No, I've never noticed any adverse affect to either my Medtronic or my t:slim pumps from putting them through the X-ray at the airport.

When Tandem says X-rays are to be avoided, that is mentioned in the context of a medical procedure and other high powered medical technology, so I take them to be referring to medical X-rays. Medical x-rays are a different technology than airport x-rays, which have a much lower energy level. Medical x-ray techs, for instance, stand behind a protective screen. Airport x-rays are wide open to the technician and to the public.

The T:slim should not be exposed to any kind of X-Ray. The pump is not capable of handling MR interference. If you choose to ignore this manufacturer warning, you risk damage to your pump and a voided warranty!

I thought this was overkill too until I went through the full body scanner and within a week, my sugars were all over the place. I couldn’t manage to regain control. My doctor finally asked, have you travelled recently and did your pump go through the full-body scanner? Why, yes I did because the TSA agent (clearly trained in diabetes management) told me I was safe to go through.

There are many legitimate stories of people losing control of their sugar levels and even going to the hospital after going through a full body scanner or X-ray machine while attached to their pump. Just google it. I just wouldn’t risk it.

However, TSA agents should never claim to know anything about diabetes or insulin pumps. It is mind-boggling that they are constantly suggesting what you should do with your medical, life-saving device.