TORONTO – Before you bite into that burger this long weekend, you might want to ask the chef whether a rusty old grill brush was used to clean the barbecue.
If ingested, these bristles can tear up 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,” said Dr. David Grand, an associate professor of diagnostic imaging with the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “It if gets to your intestine and then perforates through the wall of your intestine, that is scary. 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.”
Like many Canadians Nadia Cerelli was in the backyard earlier this summer cooking some burgers. She served her son, Anthony, a burger from her grill and soon after, he began telling her he felt like he had a needle in his throat.
“He complained of pain in his throat. He wasn’t able to swallow his own saliva,” she told CTV Toronto.
Anthony was rushed to the hospital where doctors had to perform an operation to remove the tiny piece of metal.
“It is so small and tiny to the naked eye, that even for a specialist to find it and grab it, it wasn’t that easy,” Cerelli says.
For people who have unidentified abdominal pain, seeking medical attention quickly to find the source of the problem — and telling doctors all the specifics of eating habits since the pain began — can make a big difference in faster diagnosis and treatment.
As a precaution, grills can be cleaned with aluminum foil or nylon brushes, instead of wire brushes, then wiped down with a cloth and carefully inspected before food is cooked.