Do my patients need to remove their cochlear implant sound processors when they go through security checks at airports?
No, they do not need to take their processors off. Metal detectors and security scanners will not damage the internal or external parts of the cochlear implant when the wearer passes through security. They may hear some buzzing as they walk through, but this is harmless electromagnetic interference. It is smart to leave the processor on when they walk through, in case the security guard needs to speak to them. In some instances, the processor may activate the alarm. Do not worry if security needs to use a handheld wand to screen them. The handheld wand will not harm their cochlear implant, but it will beep when it passes over the speech processor. They should provide security with their "patient identification card" and explain that they have an implanted medical device for hearing. We encourage patients to always carry their patient identification card with them at all times. If your patient does not have an ID card from when he or she first received the cochlear implant, contact the manufacturer and request a replacement.
In addition, it is recommended that the patient WEAR the sound processor rather than place it in a bin and have it pass through the X-ray machine. X-ray machines have the potential to damage the electric microphones used in most cochlear implants. They should also avoid placing these items in cargo luggage or carry-on luggage that is screened with x-rays.
For more information on travel tips for cochlear implant and hearing aid wearers, please contact the device manufacturer.
Shelly Ozdamar, Cochlear Implant Audiologist
New York Eye & Ear Infirmary: Cochlear Implant Center
About New York Eye & Ear Infirmary
Founded in 1820, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in Manhattan (New York City) is the oldest specialty hospital in the Western Hemisphere. With a rich heritage and a mission of providing high quality patient care, community outreach, graduate and continuing medical education and scientific research, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary has built upon its strengths to emerge as a recognized leader in the fields of eye, and ear, nose and throat care.
This commitment to excellence extends beyond local recognition;The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary is continually mentioned in US News and World Report's "America's Best Hospitals". The ophthalmology and otolaryngology departments regularly rank among the highest for all hospitals throughout the United States. In 1999, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary became part of Continuum Health Partners, Inc., one of the metropolitan area's largest hospital networks.