Entries in Stomach (4)


Tiny Wire from BBQ Brush Lands Teen in Surgery

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash.) -- A Washington state teen is recovering after a “violent” stomach ache landed him in a hospital where doctors performed exploratory surgery only to discover his problems stemmed from a BBQ brush wire that he unknowingly swallowed.

Tristin Beck, 16, of Mountlake Terrace, Wash., was admitted to Seattle Children’s hospital late last week when his symptoms went from stomach pains to vomiting. Tristin told his parents it felt like he was being stabbed from the inside out.

On Sunday night, doctors performed exploratory surgery on his small intestine and found a problem no one expected.

“We saw the glisten of metal off the light. Another doctor said that looks like a wire from a BBQ brush,” said Dr. Kimberly Riechle, a surgeon at the hospital. “It turns out Tristin unknowingly ate one of these, a wire -- the size of a hair -- from a common grill brush. It apparently came off and stuck to the chicken he was eating at a family BBQ.”

As strange as it sounds, this is not the first time a wire from a grill brush has landed someone in the hospital. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning in the past about old BBQ brushes and the threat of tiny metal bristles rubbing off.

Doctors from Rhode Island Hospital reported in July 2012 that six people came to the emergency department from 2011 to 2012 with wire bristles from grill brushes lodged in their throats, stomachs, intestines or other organs after eating meat cooked on an outdoor grill.

Tristin’s mother, Beth Beck, had never heard of the problem and is now heeding the CDC’s warning and throwing out her BBQ brush. Beck is also urging other parents to check their brush right before the BBQ season heats up.

“I don’t want anybody else to go through this. It’s been horrible,” Beck said.

Tristin, who described the pain as “pretty violent,” is still in the hospital and expected to make a full recovery. He has gone from scared to overwhelmed about his strange close call.

“I have really bad luck because of this one in a million chance happened to me. But also really good luck because they found it so early and the doctors put me in the O.R. and got it out,” Tristin said.

Tristin hasn’t been able to eat solid food for days and is craving something delicious to chow down on, but he says, just don’t offer him anything off the grill for a while.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Huge Hairball in Teen's Stomach Underscores Hair-Eating Dangers

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons in India, in an unusual surgery last month, removed a 4-pound hairball from the stomach of a 19-year-old girl.

According to a report by Indian website, the girl couldn't eat or drink for days. She reportedly had a habit of eating her hair and chalk, which led to the formation of what is known as a trichobezoar -- a solid mass that, in this case, blocked her digestive tract.

Such cases of stomach hairballs -- which are quite rare -- pose a potentially deadly situation and are often associated with a disorder known as trichotillomania. Individuals with trichotillomania feel compelled to pull out their hair, resulting in hair loss, according to information provided by the Trichotillomania Learning Center in California. A minority of these people -- 5 to 20 percent -- may occasionally or routinely swallow their hair, potentially leading to these blockages.

Jenni Ruud, a 35-year-old Illinois mother-of-three, described her emotional turmoil after her daughter, Lily, was diagnosed with trichotillomania in the second grade.

"I became very depressed as a parent," she said, "until I found the tools and people I needed so I [could] support my daughter and accept her for who she is."

Though Lily -- now 12 -- has never been diagnosed with swallowing her hair, she said she has endured bullying because of her condition and uses a headband to cover up her bald areas.

"It's kind of embarrassing," she said. "It's kind of sad. You're very self-conscious. ... You'll see all these girls with hair, and I don't remember what it's like to have hair.

"Part of me wants to pull and part of me is like, 'No!'" she said. "It's so hard to control."

The cause of trichotillomania is not known. This condition is fairly common, affecting about one in 50 people at some point during their lives. While hair pulling may happen in anyone at any age, background, or sex, most adult cases occur in women.

There are a number of signs that might alert families and friends that their loved ones are pulling out their hair, said Dr. Jon E. Grant, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago.

Grant said that large amounts of hair in the bathroom or bedroom and noticeable hair loss are examples of telltale signs. He also said that changes to hairstyle or fashion -- such as wearing caps -- could be a sign. "People don't want the public embarrassment of people pointing out bald patches," he said.

The most helpful treatments for hair pulling are behavioral therapies. These focus on teaching "people to be more mindful of their urges," said Martin E. Franklin, associate professor of clinical psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvannia, who studies trichotillomania in children and adolescents. "[We] have the patient engage in physical behavior that's incompatible with pulling," he said, adding that this keeps their hands busy while they wait for the urge to pass.

The urge among some of those with trichotillomania to swallow their pulled out hair is another issue that medical experts must deal with, as it is a practice which can cause serious medical problems, Grant said. Parents of hair pullers should ask their children in a nonjudgmental way if they are swallowing their hair, he said. It's strongly recommended that hair eaters been seen by a doctor to rule out an intestinal blockage.

If one can treat the hair pulling, then hair swallowing can be avoided, he said. He added that most people don't eat enough hair to cause hairballs to form.

Dr. Samantha Cook, a pediatrician at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., said that common signs of stomach hairballs include bad breath, occasional vomiting, stomach pain, dark green-to-black colored stools, decreased appetite, weight loss, and stunted growth -- though she added that these signs are not always present. Occasionally, hair swallowers will eat other strange things, such as soil, rocks, foam, even rubber gloves.

Removal of hairballs depends on their size and location. "Small ones may be removed via endoscopy," she said, "[while] larger ones must be surgically removed by cutting open the stomach."

[To watch a video of the surgical removal of a giant hairball, CLICK HERE.]

Five years ago, Cook said she cared for a patient with a special type of giant hairball, known as Rapunzel syndrome. This term is used to describe a stomach hairball blockage that has a "tail" that extends into the intestines, in honor of the long-haired fairytale princess who dangled down her tresses to her prince suitor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman’s Stomach Held Pen for 25 Years

(LONDON) -- The pen is mightier than the sword, so the saying goes. But in the case of an elderly British woman, a pen is also mightier than one’s stomach acid.

An unidentified 76-year-old woman had a pen stuck inside her stomach for the past 25 years, according to a report in the British Medical Journal. Doctors at a hospital in Exeter found the pen on a CT scan when the patient came to the hospital complaining of weight loss and diarrhea.

The patient told her doctors that 25 years ago, she was using the pen to inspect a spot on her tonsils when she slipped, fell and accidentally swallowed the pen. Her physician husband didn’t believe her story but took an X-ray of her stomach, which showed nothing inside of her.

So the pen remained in her stomach for over two decades, amazingly causing the woman no ill effects at all.

“The stomach does not have an extensive sensory innervation and the felt tip pen was blunt,” Dr. Oliver Waters, a gastroenterologist who treated the woman, told ABC News. “So if the pen was not damaging the stomach this would explain the patient’s lack of symptoms.”

When Waters and his colleagues fished the pen out of its gastrointestinal hiding place, they found that it still wrote clearly.

Doctors say the patient is probably lucky she chose a felt-tip pen to probe her tonsils. Something sharper, such as a ballpoint pen, could have cut into the lining of her stomach and allowed the gut’s bacteria to seep into the rest of her body.

“In all likelihood the pen didn’t show up on the first X-ray because there are no metal pieces in a felt-tip pen,” Dr. Michael West, a trauma surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital, told ABC News. “A ballpoint pen has several metal parts, like the springs and the tip, and would have been seen on an X-ray.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman Loses 130 Lbs. Months after Radical Stomach Surgery

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in as long as she can remember, Holly Matherne is excited about shopping. Last October Matherne was a size 32. Today she's a size 18 and dropping. An addiction to clothes is replacing her previous addiction: food.

In an interview with ABC’s Nightline last October, Matherne said, "I've been fighting with weight since I was 6 years old. I've been on every diet, I've been to a nutritionist, Weight Watchers, reduce fat, reduce calorie, you name it, I've done it. I may lose weight here and there, but then it winds up creeping back on. It's all tied to emotion. I'm obviously an emotional eater."

Last fall Matherne weighed 370 pounds, and she knew she had to turn her life around before it was too late, she said. After years of unsuccessful dieting, Matherne decided to have sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical operation to remove most of her stomach. The procedure cost around $30,000 and is irreversible.

Dr. David Treen was Matherne's bariatric surgeon.

"The beauty of the sleeve gastrectomy is that the patients lose weight twice as fast as what we've seen with other surgical procedures," Treen said. "There is no question this is the single best option for patients who the weight has just gotten out of control."

The surgery takes less than an hour and sheds very little blood. A pouch is cut from the stomach and stapled shut, and the rest of the stomach -- about 85 percent -- is twirled out of a dime-size hole. With that part of the stomach goes a hormone called ghrelin.

"Ghrelin is a powerful appetite stimulant," said Treen, "and when you remove this part of the stomach, most of our patients tell us after surgery, they're not hungry. Ever."

Now, her recovery complete, Matherne has lost 130 pounds since the surgery.

"I find I'm a lot more outgoing," she said. "I always thought I was outgoing, that I had a good personality, but I find I'm less hesitant in social situations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio