ER doctor goes viral after exposing the dangers of wire grill brushes

As we get closer to BBQ season, you might want to change out your grilling brushes

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Dr. Meghan Martin, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, went viral on TikTok after sharing a terrifying case involving a 4-year-old patient.

“One of the most interesting cases that I’ve had to date was a 4-year-old boy who was at a barbecue eating when he suddenly grabbed his ear and started crying, complaining of ear pain,” Martin said in the two minute Tiktok video.

After running tests and exams for several days, donctors discovered that the boy had a piece of a wire grill brush in his neck.

“We ended up seeing a small foreign body in the neck that was a grill brush wire and it had created a little abscess around itself because it was a small foreign body in the neck,” Martin told Good Morning America.


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“If anyone is eating something that just came off the grill and all of a sudden they have pain, or maybe in the next couple of days they develop some symptoms ... they’re vomiting, they have really bad abdominal pain, it is something to think about to get an X-ray or some other imaging modality that can check to see if there was a piece of a wire that was lodged in the food that they ate,” Martin said.

According to Nutritious Life, piece of wire can break off the brush and end up in food that’s cooked on the grill. If ingested, it could puncture the esophagus, intestines, stomach or liver. Or it could lodge somewhere else in the body and cause an abscess like in the case Dr. Martin described.

While the situation is rare, in 2010 the CDC issued a warning against wire brushes after six cases were reported over an 18 month period. Between 2002 and 2014, researchers estimate nearly 1,700 people went to the emergency room after swallowing bristles.

As barbecue season approaches, consider alternatives to wire grill brushes. Options made with nylon bristles are widely available.