Diabetes Self-Management Blog

The holidays are just around the corner, and for many people, that means traveling, and more specifically, traveling through airport security. A recent report in the journal Diabetes Technologies & Therapeutics outlines some information regarding airport full-body scanners that people using insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitors will want to know.

According to the authors, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, continuous gluocose monitor transmitters, and Medtronic’s iPro Recorder are at risk of electromagnetic malfunction if they are brought through imaging devices such as airport body scanners, computer-assisted tomography (CAT) scanners, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. These devices are not affected by airport metal detectors. (Images of a backscatter machine and a millimeter wave scanner, two types of full-body scanners, can be found here and here, respectively. An image of a traditional airport metal detector can be found here.)

Anyone who has any of these devices should opt out of a full-body scan in favor of screening with a metal detector or a pat-down. The authors recommend that people with diabetes obtain a travel letter from their physician that can be presented to security personnel detailing the specific supplies they must keep with them during their travels. They further suggest that the letter include a statement indicating that the relevant medical device or devices not be exposed to magnetic x-ray equipment, including full-body scanners, but instead should be hand checked.

“Given the increased use of insulin pump therapy, not only in the US, but around the world, with hundreds of thousands of people using this technology, it seems critical that more research is funded to better understand and potentially repair this problem,” notes Irl Hirsch, MD, Senior Editor of Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics and Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center-Roosevelt.

For more information, read the article “Airport Full-Body Scans Can Cause Malfunction of Insulin Pumps and CGMS Systems”. And to learn more about insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, click here.

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