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Can Hernia Mesh Be Seen on a TSA Scanner?

Can Hernia Mesh Be Seen on a TSA Scanner?

 Here’s an interesting question, can hernia mesh be seen on a TSA scanner? Let’s explore…

What Does the TSA Body Scanner Machine Actually Do?

Anyone who has travelled knows that the TSA use machines to body scan the passengers before they can board an airplane. The TSA body scanning machine is meant to show TSA agents if you are hiding any contraband, weapons or other dangerous objects hidden underneath your clothing, that can pose a real threat to other people on the airplane you are about to travel on to the scheduled destination. Most people go through a body scanner at the airport and think nothing of it, because they have nothing to hide. Other people who have had surgical procedures with implants always wonder if the TSA agents can see the outline or actual implant on the body scanner. The same holds true of people who have had a hernia mesh implant. But there is good news, the TSA agents are not able to see your hernia mesh implant on the current machines used at airports to scan passengers today.

Early Body Scanners Showed a Bit Too Much of the Human Body to the TSA Agents

In the early days of the body scanners, there were no useful guidelines and the TSA agents were able to see people in their naked and unique, full birthday suit glory, quite an idea to think about now. Before the new machines and regulations were put into place, it may have been the case that the TSA were able to see genitalia, prosthetics, and other personal items on passengers who were forced to walk clothed into the body scanning equipment. But after 2013, there were guidelines put into place and new machines were employed to manage the scanning of passengers at the airports before they travel on a plane. Today, TSA and other airport agencies use a millimeter wave machine to body scan passengers before they get onto an airplane. This body scan is for security purposes, and not for the prurient interest of the TSA agents. There have been national and overseas organizations and agencies that manage the guidelines for running body scanning equipment at airports globally, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies worldwide that offer protection for the rights and privacy of the passengers from the use of millimeter wave machines.

Exposure to Millimeter Wave Machines and Safety Guidelines

If you go through a millimeter wave machine, there is an exposure toe the radio frequency (RF) of the apparatus on the machine. Technically, the RF exposure needs to be low to protect people from being exposed to rays or heat from the machinery. The average power density field for a public exposure to a millimeter wave machine is determined in W/m2, but all you need to know is that 10 W/m2 is the limit of your exposure to these electromagnetic waves in the 3 minutes you are usually interacting with the machine.2 Simply put, there is an advanced imaging technology machine that is emitting electromagnetic waves with a wavelength around 10 millimeters of radiation, to scan your body at the airport TSA security checkpoints. The way it works, is the wave is sent to the person in the machine, it is slightly absorbed by the person, then the wave bounces back to the machine and records an image of anything being carried by the person under his or her clothing.2 Some energy from the machine is absorbed into your tissues when the scan is being done, hopefully negligible amounts. That is why you are usually ushered through the machine quickly by TSA agents, it is not a place to linger. If you have been injured by overlong exposure to a TSA body scanning machine, you can call our office today to discuss your personal injuries. We are here to help you at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, and you can speak to us now at 866-INJURY2 or 866-465-8792.

Everyone Is Wondering, Can the Hernia Mesh Be Seen on the Airport Body Scanning Machine?

The easy answer is “Yes” and “No,” because there are some radiopaque properties of hernia meshes that allow them to be seen on high-resolution imaging machines, such as a CT or MRI used at a healthcare facility or hospital. If you are being imaged at a medical facility for a medical problem, the fact that you have a hernia mesh will be disclosed to the medical staff, and it will be a part of your medical history. In short, the doctors imaging you for a current medical condition will know you have a hernia mesh, will see it on the CT or MRI scan, and will be able to treat your new medical condition with the hernia mesh in place as it should be in your body. But because many hernia mesh manufacturers do not disclose the radiopaque properties of the mesh materials that they make, even knowing there is a hernia mesh in your body may not allow a medical professional to find it on a radiology scan.

Similarly, at the airport, the TSA agents will most likely not be able to see your hernia mesh in the body scanning machine. In general, here is a list of hernia mesh brand manufacturers whereby the hernia meshes noted are either not visible or only barely or indirectly visible on an imaging scan:2

  • Surgipro (Covidien)
  • Vypro (Ethicon)
  • Ultrapro (Ethicon)
  • TiMesh (Biomet)
  • Prolene (Ethicon)
  • Ethicon
  • Marlex (Bard Davol)
  • Composix (Bard Davol)
  • Paretene (Covidien)
  • Polyester
  • Parietex (Sofradim)

Hernia mesh causes major medical problems. If you have had a hernia mesh surgical procedure and now have issues, complications or other problems with the hernia mesh that was implanted, you can call our office today to review your personal injury claim. You can feel free to call us today at Walch Law, and you can speak to us now at 866-INJURY2 or 866-465-8792.


2National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Airport passenger screening using millimeter wave machines: Compliance with guidelines. National Academies Press.

3Rakic, S., & LeBlanc, K. A. (2013). The radiologic appearance of prosthetic materials used in hernia repair and a recommended classification. American Journal of Roentgenology, 201(6), 1180-1183.

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