Is it safe if insulin pump passes through scanners?

I have heard that insulin pump should not pass through scanners as they can malfunction. Does anybody in this forum has any knowledge/experience about this, and which type of scanners should be avoided?

Additional discussions on Flying & the TSA (added by TuDiabetes Administration)

From my understanding, the xrays and the full body scanners are a no, the metal detectors are a yes.

I take my pump off and put it through the X-ray machine with the rest of my stuff. I’m sure you’re not “supposed” to do that, but I’ve not had a problem and I refuse to be patted down just because I use a necessary life-saving device. I think the pump companies haven’t tested their pumps in a bunch of X-ray machines/body scanners/etc., so they have to tell you not to do it to cover themselves. If you think about it, there’s not any more metal/technology/special parts to a pump than in a laptop or a tablet or whatever. The major difference being that your iPad doesn’t have life-sustaining capabilities :). I think it ultimately comes down to what you’re most comfortable with doing.

folks; the issue with xrays has to do with the typical eproms used to store and save programs of the microprocessor system used in pump electronics. Xrays can erase these program memorys rendering the device in operative. in the past there were masked roms and eproms. Masked roms usually not an issue but everybody uses the eprom devices as they are cheap and obiqutous.

My answer is pass the pump around the xray machine and asked for visual inspection and check if necessary.

Supposedly the level of xray energy has been reduced but still no guarantee.

the old joke was that if one had a bunch of one time non windowed eproms, one could always go to your dentist and have him erase these one time devices by the xray machine.

Thanks for the explanation! My issue is still that I won’t be patted down…I just find it intrusive and unnecessary and in my experience, they won’t take your pump from you to hand check and at my home airport you cannot ask to go through a different machine. (Metal detector vs body scanner. I don’t think they even have metal detectors at my airport anymore.) You just get the pat down if you can convince them that your pump shouldn’t go through the machines in the first place. Too much of a hassle!

So timely--I just dealt with this yesterday in Boston. Medtronic currently and as long as I have been a user says the pump is fine in metal detector, but not the xray machines or scanner. The TSA agent was quite argumentative, telling me it was fine to go through the scanner, but she could not allow anyone with any type of 'Implantable" medical device such as a pacemaker or pump to go through the metal detector because the device would malfunction. I don't mind the pat down, I just don't want the TSA agents giving incorrect information. And I'm not sure I would really call a pump clipped to my pocket and implanted device, but I guess that's just semantics.

good for you. Take no chances. Unfortunately not everyone is up to speed on these issues nor appreciates the impact on someone depending on safe health with these modern gadgets.

Best wishes and thank you for sharing!

I've used insulin pumps since 1987 and have travelled by air a lot. I worked my career as an electronic technician for a major airline. Over the years I just started disconnecting the pump at the site and putting it in my hand carry luggage and through the x-ray. I've done this dozens of times. I've never had an electronic pump failure due to this. I attribute the pump company over-caution to legal/regulatory fears.

It makes my life easier going through security at the airport. I don't have much patience with the overall concept so the less interaction I have with them, the better. Maybe I'm just lucky and tempting fate, but that's what I do.

It cracks me up, however, when the TSA agent calls out "Male assist!" to have someone pat down my male labrador hypoglycemia alert dog.

I feel the same way, shelby; I consider a pat down incredibly intrusive. Last time I went through the full body scan with my pump. They did a hand scan anyway after I came through so when I travel this week I thought I'd see if they will just take it from me to hand check.

Your insulin pump manual (or the customer service line) can answer the question for your pump and if it can go through scanner, x-ray, magnetic areas. Mine cannot go through x-ray or scanner or magnetic scan, the manual makes that clear so I don't question it. A pat down is not a big deal if you don't make it one.

We all feel differently about these things, Karen, and we all make different choices. Many people on here have gone through scanners many times with no ill effects, others choose to be cautious and not do so. We all make choices. For myself I choose to try and get the staff to manually scan my pump; if they won't I'll go through. I find having a strangers hands all over my body extremely offensive and am not willing to allow this in the name of terrorist paranoia. We still have rights. YMMV.

Wow, Kim...I've never had a problem at Logan Airport. I always carry a clean plastic bag and take my pump off when I'm approaching the scanner and ask to have it hand-inspected. Not only have I never had a problem, but they've always been quite nice about it.

On the other hand, I haven't flown since the Marathon bombings, so I don't know if that may have affected things at Logan.

I've had the hand pat at other airports and I, too, find it very intrusive and uncomfortable.


I am not sure of who manufactures your pump but here are medtronic's warings for different equipment:

As you can see Medtronic clearly tells wearers that X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans and airport body scanners can damage your pump and void your warranty.

I believe all the pumps (except possibly omnipod) have the same warnings.

This was my first time in Boston, but I fly several times a year through many different airports and have always found the TSA agents to be very polite. I have asked at other airports to have my pump hand inspected--some do, some don't--but I did not want to agitate this woman any further. Most will allow me to walk through the metal detector, then have me touch my pump and swab my palms. I don't object to the pat down, but I would rather follow the instructions from my pump company than from a TSA agent who is clearly not familiar with Medtronic's recommendations.

capin, that is the rule I have always known about. There was a big deal recently about pumps and airport screening. The TSA promised to inform all agents that pumps are not supposed to be passed thru scanners, xrays, etc etc.

Now I will also be truthful, I have other issues so I always get a pat down anyway. The metal in my body is enough to set off a fireworks display. When that happens you get a pat down so i am good with it. I mean, if I want to fly I get the pat down. Pump or no pump. I can say that usually the TSA has been good to me at most airports. I advise of the pump and metal as I approach they pat me down and by that time my bag is ready for search. But that is a different issue.

I consider the whole TSA (not to mention NSA) an intrusive offense. I therefore always opt for a pat down - not because I find it any less intrusive - but because I know that if everyone who got on a plane was to insist on a pat-down then they would have to abandon the whole intrusive inspection process entirely since they couldn't possibly hire enough agents to inspect everyone. I refuse to make this easy for the A-holes (from the top of the government on down) that have decided that law-abiding citizens should all be treated as terrorists.

Hmmm. I'm not sure we DO have any rights left. All of our phone calls, emails, texts and internet browsing is stored and scanned by the NSA. Our cell phones locations are stored so it's known where we are when we're moving around. Our faces are scanned and stored in public and private video cameras every day. Our license plates and EZ-passes are scanned and logged while we drive. If we want to get on a plane we need to subit to full-body scans or pat-downs, or potentially full-body naked cavity searches. Our retina eyeprints and fingerprints are taken if we want to leave or return to the country. Our DNA can now be legally taken and analyzed by any police officer who wants to follow you around, or any time you are arrested for anything, regardless of whether you actually committed any crime.

Oh, but then we CAN choose between watching the Bachelorette or American Idol. So I guess we do still have freedom of choice here in the good old USA.

Sadly I think you are right, Jag - between the privacy we have taken from us and that we hand away willingly. I always find it particularly amusing when famous people get indignant about papparazzi but they tweet their every move for all the world to see. Oh please don't get me started.

Traveling out of the country on Friday, gotta pack my "smile and nod" face in my carry-on along with whole piles of medical crap that I usually don't see altogether...yikes!

I pat down and HATE it! I also have gotten a lot of grief from the "highly trained TSA employees: "You can go through that with a pump--everyone does; there are no Xrays; What is your problem, lady." But, I still protect my lifesaving medical device when I can and heed the warnings.

You know, I always take a "back-up" pump for long trips and it goes in my carry on. Never had any problems and flew a lot for work. I actually had to use it lately for a button error and it was fine--been through the Xray..30-40 times?