DIY endoscopy reveals wire bristle from barbecue brush lodged in man's throat

Updated June 14, 2019 16:11:35

A Brisbane man is being labelled an "Iron Man" after a wire bristle from a barbecue cleaning brush became lodged in his throat.

Luke Greensill said he was eating meat he had prepared on his barbie when he felt something in his throat, which he thought was a chicken bone.

"I tried to dislodge it to no avail — it wasn't coming out and it was really scratchy," he told Sports Unisda Radio Brisbane's Steve Austin.

"I could feel it all the time, and what I ended up doing was using an inspection camera that I had bought but never used and gave myself a DIY endoscopy.

"That was when I saw there was a wire stuck in my throat ... I presented to the [emergency department] and basically spent the next three days in hospital."

The bristle, which is 20 millimetres in length, had been stuck in Mr Greensill's throat for more than a week.

He said the hospital conducted a full endoscopy but could not remove the bristle.

"I was under full general anaesthetic and they still couldn't get it out," he said.

"At first I thought they were joking, but it was still stuck in there and they said they would try again the following day.

"They tried again and told me they couldn't get it out."

Mr Greensill said he could feel the wire all the time.

"The bristle is stuck at the very base of my tongue; your tongue goes about half way down your neck.

"It's an interesting thing to rationalise."

Iron Man needs an Ant Man

The rather relaxed patient said he had been referred to as "Brisbane's Iron Man".

"I don't have the fusion reactor in my chest, so I have nothing keeping me safe — maybe we should enlist Ant Man to help," he said.

"I'm just hoping I don't have to have an MRI."

The wire has not stopped Mr Greensill from eating, yet it hurts after he coughs.

"I was thinking it might break loose and end up somewhere else in my digestive system and cause other issues," he said.

"I'm hoping the bristle is stainless steel and it doesn't have nickel in it."

The brush contained a warning on the back, yet it was only bought last Christmas.

"The thing about the brush is that it's only been used a handful of times," Mr Greensill said.

Sub-specialised equipment needed

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon Matthew Broadhurst said the area where the wire had lodged itself could be a difficult place for doctors to operate on.

"There is the tongue base and below that is the larynx, so that whole area we call the hypo-larynx," Dr Broadhurst said.

"The tongue base has a lot of nooks and crannies of lymph tissue, and like fish bones, things can certainly get stuck in that tissue."

Dr Broadhurst said there was often only a narrow window of opportunity soon after the lodgement when "it's superficial".

"That's why he could see it himself with his skilled self-endoscopy; I have never heard of someone doing that before."

Sub-specialised instrumentation was often needed, he said, and could have been the reason the hospital could not retrieve the wire.

"Also, it can be the experience of the operators, and when people are on-call for these things, they are often general ENT surgeons who may not have a sub-specialised practice just in the larynx."

Mr Greensill will attend another appointment in the coming days.

Topics: offbeat, ear-nose-and-throat-disorders, lifestyle, medical-procedures, medical-specialisation, health, human-interest, brisbane-4000

First posted June 14, 2019 11:45:01