Implants, Piercings and Prosthetics, Oh My! What You May Reveal to TSA Employees
By Colleen Cappon
Published November 19, 2010 | FoxNews.com
With holiday travel season quickly approaching, new rules on airport security scanners are on the minds of thousands of U.S. travelers. Think you know what to expect? Well, you may be revealing even more than you thought.
The leaked images released on Gawker.com this week left many feeling red in the face. Those opting out of the scan have the alternative of a pat down, but what if the scanner detects something you can’t take off?
We asked Dr. Kristin Byrne, a radiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, what TSA scanners can learn about your health history by just passing through the security line.
“The airport scanners show anything on the surface of the skin and very closely under the skin,” Byrne told FoxNews.com.
Byrne said this means TSA workers will see any foreign objects close to the skin, including piercings, catheters, and colostomy bags.
Breast implants and prosthetic testicles will also be easily recognizable on the scanner screen.
Still not embarrassed? The X-ray technology has the ability to tell if a man is circumcised or not, although Byrne said the scanners are supposed to be designed to avoid that.
“Privacy algorithms software is used to create a blur effect that blurs out facial features and genital areas as they come up,” she said. “Although I don’t know if all the scanners are using them.”
Rumors have been floating around cyberspace about other potentially embarrassing objects that could be revealed in a scan, such as tampons, diaphragms, intrauterine devices and even penile implants. Byrne said this is all speculation.
“The type of scanner used at the airport doesn’t have the high frequency waves needed to see deep enough inside your body to detect those things,” she said.
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