Injuries caused by accidental ingestion of bristles from grill-cleaning brushes may be more common than previously believed, according to a recent CDC report.
The report describes six patients treated at one hospital system between March 2011 and June 2012, including one woman and five men aged 31 to 64 years. All patients had ingested a wire bristle from a grill-cleaning brush that had become embedded in grilled food. The bristles were “usually approximately 2 centimeters long,” researcher David J. Grand, MD, department of diagnostic imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I., told Healio.com.
Sustained injuries ranged in severity from punctured soft tissue in the neck to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. Reported symptoms included severe abdominal pain and severe pain when swallowing, depending on bristle location.
Figure 1. Axial and coronal images (A,B) from intravenous contrast-enhanced computed tomography show a wire grill-cleaning brush bristle in the omentum (arrows), surrounded by soft tissue stranding (inflammation); a specimen radiograph (C) from omental resection confirms complete foreign object retrieval (arrow).
Bristles were removed from the neck via laryngoscopy in three cases, through emergency abdominal surgery in two patients and via colonoscopy in another. All six patients experienced full recovery.
Details were unavailable on the types of grill-cleaning brushes involved. The report calls for increased awareness of the potential risk for this injury among medical professionals in order to improve the speed of diagnosis and promote proper treatment.
“With the summer grilling season under way, broad awareness of the risk will help [emergency department] physicians, internists and radiologists to quickly and appropriate diagnose this injury,” the CDC wrote. “These bristles are small, and can be quite difficult to visualize on plain radiographs and CT. Physician awareness of this potential injury is critical to facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment.”
The CDC also recommends that medical professionals or consumers report these injuries to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.