DENVER -- Canadian surgeons are urging people to throw out their wire-bristle barbecue grill brushes.
The doctors said bristles from the kitchen tool are landing a growing number of people in the hospital.
Kevin Gallant spent 18 months plagued with stomach pain before doctors found the problem: A bristle from a barbecue brush lodged in his small intestine.
"I was very ill, probably as close to death as you want to be," Gallant said.
Gallant had to have part of intestine removed and suffered serious complications.
"I was told I was very fortunate that they found it because it would have just pierced through the small intestine into one of my major organs, till it found a spot that it would have just killed me," he said.
Gllant now has a 20-centimeter scar and lingering stomach pain. He said he still uses a wire brush occasionally, but he's careful.
Doctors in Nova Scotia said the tiny hair-like bristles are causing big problems.
In the Halifax area, they see one or two cases a week and removing them isn't easy.
"It's a needle in a haystack, but the haystack is your tongue, so it's not an easy structure to go fishing around in," Dr. Ian Dempsey said.
Dempsey said it's a head and neck surgeons discussed the bristle as their annual meeting this summer but have yet to find a sure--fire treatment.
"We're hoping that if enough people raise this issue, hopefully, we'll just eliminate those types of brushes from the market and use a safer alternative," Dempsey said.