Flying and TSA

Hello! I was wondering if anyone has gone through the body scanner since getting a shunt? I recently did, quite by mistake, and haven't felt well since. By that, I'm feeling much more headaches, which I never did since my shunt was placed. I've been very cautious when I go through security, but this time, things were moving so fast, and realized only after I was done that maybe it could have effected my shunt.

Has anyone had this problem? I'm going to be meeting my new Neurosurgeon soon here in new state of Ohio.


Sandra...I am no help on this issue of the security filming...I thought that was stopped, or being stopped...

Prayers you get lots of responses with those who have shunt implants...what little I know from people who have had them, is that sometimes the shunt needs some adjustment...another question for your new doc...


Thanks Pat. I appreciate it. God Bless.


hello sandra, I have a shunt and have been instructed only to call the doctors office if i'm exposed to any magnets, such as an mri, but not sure about the scanner so a call to your md won't hurt. All they have to do, is check your shunt with their magnet-it only takes a min. but is important to be done. My shunt is pre-set and can be turned off by exposure of magnet from an mri. when your not sure, give a call-my prayers for you. donna w

Hi Sandra,

I can tell you my wife was struck and shocked by a retail store antitheft system while she was walking into a store while another customer was walking out with non deactivated tag. That was a direct electrical shock to her brain via the metal cranial sutures. Keep a weary eye out for these devices. I was under the impression that the TSA used radiation type devices in their scanners however I'm sure they use magnetic type scanner wands and this can pose a problem for those having metal implanted in their skulls.

After my clipping, I received a medical alert card from my hospital. It states "The carrier of this card has one or more neurosurgical implants in their brain. The implants contain alloy which may be sensitive to airport security systems or metal detectors."

Last time I flew I just showed my card and they allowed me to skip the full body scanner and just go through the metal detector.


Hi Sandra...I would contact my Doctor's office and let them know what happened and can they give you something that would stop you from having to go through the security machine...they can swab your hands for bombs...I haven't been through the machine since my coiling...I told them I had coils in my brain and that was that...they didn't want me to go through...not to mention I have a dog always with me and she can't go through the scanner...~ Good luck...let us know what you find out ~ Colleen


I fly a lot, and always "opt-out" of the scanner and endure the invasive manual pat-down, which is hideous.

I would really like to get one of those cards for all the aneurysm clipping metal I have. Could you tell me which department of the hospital issued that card for you? And if it's not too personal, I would really appreciate an uploaded image of the card so I can show it to my hospital. I have an appointment there on Thursday this week, and another on the 19th.

I don't mind walking through the old-fashioned TSA metal detectors, but I will not go through the ones where you stand up and hold your hands over your head.

Hi Terri,

No problem I'll scan the card. Mine was given to me before I left the hospital. I always have my card, with boarding pass, and license with me when I approach TSA. I also let the agent know when book my travel so they can imput to their system.

A friend of mine,who's husband is a co-pilot with AA said they will see the name of passengers who may require special care, in our case, desending too quickly, can have an effect. The same goes for passengers with pace makers. I must admit, I don't always do that though, but when it comes to my card, I like them to know that I have shunt in my brain when I travel, or I have to go through any kind of scanner.

Recenty we were in NYC and going through 911 Memorial, people had to go through scanners, I told them about my shunt and had the hand- pat- me- down.

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wow i walked thru a security scanner but never thought it would do any harm, the shunt is not metal i don't think, but the coils are platinum, also i get mra's- they are safe if machine is under a certain tesla-power, i had to have x rays pre and post mra to check the shunt and all wwas fine-i wasn't allowed to leave until their dr reviewed the x rays The first mra i had to wait an hour until they verified what type shunt and coils i had, hope this helps. Let me know please if they say we should not walk thru scanners and i will call my neurosurgeon to see if my shunt should be checked, thanks for posting its definitely something to think about-we must be our own advocates- security is not going to be aware of us~

Hi Ron,

in regards to my shunt and Mra/Mri, I had to go to a different place to have done, now that was in AZ, since here in Ohio, I have not had to have an MRI/MRA, just cat scan and xray. What I've been told is the magnets, that's what makes the difference. So anything that has a magnet it will effect the shunt. With all the precautions I take, my shunt did change.

My shunt is back to 100 and it made all the difference in my life. My new doctor showed me the setting was at 80. He changed it back, and I feel like my old self again, just by changing 10 points.
my shunt placement was done with this little gadget, it only took 8 mins. Didn't hurt at all, and felt as soon as he changed it.

thanks Sandra! i guess there are many types of shunts, mine is codman adjustable and its ok with my local hospitals mri machine- i get yearly mra, where do they put that probe device? my shunt is in forehead under the skin, When i called surgeons they said i'd be sleeping all day if shunt was malfunctioning but my Canadian friend says stomach ache??? so im very confused- she had to have a revision twice but i don't understand what that means???

Hi Ron, yes things can be pretty confused. Thus why I shared what happened to me, doctors are wonderful, don't get me wrong, but they don't understand what it's like as we do, and we are living with it. Funny, if I pushed my doctors when I first esxplained to me about my brain feeling wet, if they had taken a cat scan a month before when I brought it up, things could have been a allot different for me. Like, no rupture. In my opinion, how long was that time bomb there minus any of the symptoms that text book will tell them (doctors) that aneyurism exists.

So now, I will be the pain. Like you wrote, we have to be our own advocate. Now back to your comments, I don't agree with the doctor saying you would be sleeping. What I would tell you is this, if like mine they can see what it's set at, than have them show you.With my shunt, it's also under the skin/scalp, mine is n the rt side of my head, right above the ear. I'll post another picture. He the doctor has to know exactly where the pump is, he felt for it, than placed this contraption to the shunt and he turned the dial on the machine to 100. That was it.

Now as for revision the older shunts, they would need to go in the head and do, like surgery, thank God I don't have that one. I hope this helps you.

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Sandra, thank you for posting this helpful information. Since I don't have a shunt, that doesn't apply to me, but having it on the forum will be helpful for others, I'm sure.

Terri is the one I was hoping to use as a resource for an image of the card she got from her hospital, as she wrote:
After my clipping, I received a medical alert card from my hospital. It states:

"The carrier of this card has one or more neurosurgical implants in their brain. The implants contain alloy which may be sensitive to airport security systems or metal detectors."

I would really like to have a card like that since I fly frequently.

Ed, thanks for making this point about the magnetic scanner wands TSA uses. I have had them use those on me. Is there a way we could find out the strength of the magnets they contain?

My operative report says no MRI above 1.5 Tesla. I would be surprised to discover that the magnet strength in that little hand wand would be such to possibly cause the movement of surgical metal implants. How would we research that?

Sandra, that's interesting info from your pilot connection. Is that rapid descent an issue that only impacts people with shunts, or brain aneurysms in general?

I would say probably both, and heart as well.