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CDC: BBQ Grill Brush Wires Can Cause Serious GI Injury

If ingested, stray wire bristles can pierce throat, intestines, public health experts warn

MONDAY, July 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Wire bristles from grill brushes can snap off, land on the grate, and find their way into grilled meats, public health experts warn. If ingested, these bristles can perforate a person’s throat and digestive tract, causing potentially life-threatening injuries.

“The worst are the bristles that make it all the way down to the intestines,” David Grand, M.D., an associate professor of diagnostic imaging with the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I., told HealthDay. “We saw one migrate into the liver and cause a liver infection that had to be treated, and we’ve had bristles that pierced the intestines at multiple points and had to be retrieved surgically.”

Grand’s hospital saw six cases of ingested grill brush bristles between March 2011 and June 2012, according to case reports he wrote for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three patients had wire bristles that wound up in their intestinal tract, which had to be removed through surgery or colonoscopy. The other three had bristles stuck in their neck, which were removed successfully via laryngoscopy.

In May, a Connecticut woman needed emergency surgery to remove a bristle from her digestive tract, CBS News reported. A stray bristle wound up in a hamburger she ate, and within a day she was in the emergency department complaining of severe abdominal pain. A computed tomography scan revealed the wire, which was surgically removed. About 80,000 people visit the emergency department each year after they accidentally swallow foreign objects, according to the CDC.

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