‘It was a pain I have never felt before:’ Doctors warn about using wire-bristled grill brushes

Credit: WTIC

MERIDEN, Conn. -- Doctors are warning of the dangers of improperly cleaning your grill as we head into backyard BBQ season.

Two weeks ago, doctors in Connecticut performed emergency surgery on 52-year-old Cheryl Harrison after she got a metal bristle stuck in her lower intestine.

“It must have been positioned in that burger just perfect. I ingested it and swallowed it,” Harrison told WTIC.

When her husband was cleaning their grill with a wire-bristled brush, one of the bristles fell off and got cooked into the burgers.

“It was just a pain that I have never felt before,” Harrison told WFSB. “I felt my stomach was bloated… extremely tender to the touch. You could not even push on anything – just hurt my stomach.”

As a result, Harrison began feeling severe abdominal pain within 48 hours and was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent surgery.

Credit: WTIC

“I figured out it might have been from the grill brush, so at that point, we did the CAT scan, and I had to have emergency surgery,” Harrison said.

Dr. Aziz Benbrahim, a general surgeon at MidState Medical Center, performed the procedure to remove the small metal piece from Harrison’s intestines. Benbrahim said Harrison was lucky because an object entering into a person’s small bowels can be fatal.

“We have a kink, a right angle, and it does not negotiate it well, and at that time, it can make a hole in the intestine,” Benbrahim said.

Dr. Benbrahim had performed the same surgery just one year ago when a similar incident occurred with a 50-year-old man.

“He was very sick for a few days and then he had blood clots in his lungs, so it was really life-threatening but he recovered well,” Benbrahim said.

Harrison was released from the hospital last week and is good health and recovering at home.

Harrison and her doctor wanted to warn the public of the dangers of a small and unassuming metal wire found in an everyday product used by many people.

“Visually check to see if any bristles hanging out or stuck on the grill. You just really don’t want that to happen to you,” Harrison said.

When cleaning your grill, ensure that no residue is left from the cleaning materials before you begin cooking.

As an alternative, grillers can also use a ball of aluminum foil or a nylon-based sponge.