HOUSTON — Grilling on the barbecue is a summer time tradition, but a recent steak sent dinner sent one man to the emergency room.
“It’s really bad to the point I’m nearly doubled over,” Mike Destefan said.
His doctors in New Jersey found a 2-inch long metal wire that was a bristle that came loose from his grill brush. He nearly died.
That does not surprise Dr. Waqar Qureshi, Chief of Endoscopy at Baylor.
“About 1,500 patients in this country die every year through foreign body ingestion,” he said.
Dr. Qureshi also has privileges at St. Luke’s G.I. Lab.
“We had an inmate with a steak knife,” he recalled.
It turns out, prisoners will swallow nearly anything as a quick get-out-of-jail card. Mostly though, the patients are kids. Young children ingest everything—from a string of small toy magnets, to button batteries.
“This is a child that swallowed a sharp wire…it’s about 6-inches long,” Dr. Qureshi explained as he pointed to an X-ray.
In 80 percent of cases, the foreign body passes without a problem. Twenty percent of the time, doctors have to get them out.
The main tool is a long snake-like endoscope. It has a light and a camera on one end which can be manipulated in several directions. This becomes of the eyes of the doctors inside the patient.
Different ‘accessories’, such as clamps are fed through the handle end of the endoscope and pop out on the camera end. Dr. Qureshi demonstrates a small net that can be opened and closed to snare foreign objects such as a AAA battery. He pointed to an X-ray of a psychiatric patient who had swallowed several batteries.
Open safety pins are common, especially with children. He demonstrated how a clamp secures the pin, which is retracted through an overtube or a protective sleeve so the esophagus is not torn.
One last image showed another psychiatric patient who had ingested a fistful of change. Dr. Qureshi pointed to “lots of quarters, some stones and other debris.”
Even from a man in his line of work, some days really are hard to swallow.