TUESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Several Rhode Island residents had a brush with the emergency room because of sharp wire bristles that made their way from barbecue grills into their digestive tracts.
The wire bristles, which came from the metallic brushes used to clean grills, apparently ended up in barbecued beef or chicken that the patients ate, a new report said. From there, the bristles went to their throats and stomachs and caused serious medical issues.
Emergency physicians elsewhere said they'd never seen this happen. So might the nation's smallest state be the home to its biggest problem with renegade grill-cleaner bristles? Report lead author Dr. David Grand isn't so sure.
"Certainly, we all love to grill, though I can't say for certain that Rhode Islanders grill anymore than other Americans. More likely, once we became aware of this problem we began looking for it, and if we don't specifically look for this we will not find it," said Grand, a radiologist at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
Within an 18-month period from 2009 to 2010, six patients appeared at the hospital with symptoms of abdominal pain or painful swallowing. The patients -- aged 11 to 75 and including five females -- didn't know the cause, although they'd all eaten grilled meats within the last two to 24 hours.
Scans or x-rays revealed metallic bristles in their necks or lower in their digestive systems. The bristles caused serious problems in some cases; for instance, a bristle perforated the stomach and liver of one patient who had to stay in the hospital for six days.
"Treatment for these patients involves removal of the wire," Grand said. "If the wire is lodged in the mouth or throat, this may be accomplished by an ear, nose and throat doctor or gastroenterologist who can use a small scope to find and remove the wire. If, however, the wire has perforated the intest
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