Hidden Dangers at Summer BBQs

<p>Velia Pfeiffer</p>

Velia Pfeiffer

<p>Metal BBQ Bristle</p>

Metal BBQ Bristle

A lot of you will be barbequeing over the weekend, which is something you probably don't give a second thought to.

But when it comes to the potential hazards of your barbeque cleaning tools, you should be careful.

This is the story of a Pasco woman who learned the hard way that wire brushes used to clean bbq grills can be potentially fatal.

Velia Pfieffer unknowingly swallowed a barbeque bristle last week.

By this Tuesday, she was in unbearable pain, and after multiple tests in the Emergency Room, a local surgeon discovered a wire bristle embedded in her small intestine.

"I never experienced pain like that," said Pfeiffer.

Last Thursday she had cleaned her grill with a metal wire brush and cooked rib eye steaks.

She says while eating she felt something unusual. "Like I had swallowed a needle or a piece of bone or something. It was just cutting the back of my throat so I drank a lot of water to push it down."

By Sunday, she felt pain. And by Monday night, that pain was unbearable.  "Extremely painful and as the days progressed it got worse and worse."

Tuesday mornng, she rushed to the Lourdes Medical Center. After multiple tests, she met Dr. Laurie Evans, who ordered a CAT scan to find the reason for the pain.

"Think about how a splinter feels in your finger. Well, amplify that and put that in your small gut, and that's the kind of pain she had," said Dr. Evans.

Dr. Evans ordered emergency surgery and says she knew what the object was immediately. "I found this three centimenter little fragment, it was black and looked like a thick wire. As soon as I saw it, I'm like i know what this is - this is a bristle out of a brush that you clean your grill with.

The CDC reports at least 16 similar cases in the past year , but Pfeiffer admis she'd never given it a thought.  "It never crossed my mind that it would ever happen. You know a wire brush can cause this from cleaning your grill? I'm still kinda shocked."

The CDC says that no specific brand or type of brush is to blame, but everyone should be more careful when cooking outdoors.

Dr. Evans says Pfeiffer is very lucky. She says this kind of injury can cause some real damage left untreated.

"You could get some scarring, you could get abscess, you can get a fistula. There's a variety of things that could happen over time. The lesson here is to chew your food really well. Because if she chewed her food well, she would have just spit it out," said Evans.

Pfeiffer says she's grateful to Dr. Evans, and she has some advice too. "Don't clean the grill with a wire brush. Take the time to clean it with an SOS scouring pad, with an onion, anything but a wire brush - because this could happen to anyone."

This isn't the only recent case in Washington state. Just last week, a Mountlake Terrace teenager was rushed to the ER following a similar incident.