What is an Aural Hematoma?
A hematoma is a pocket of blood that develops within an organ or tissue, sometimes referred to as a 'blood blister.' It can vary in size and location, but in the case of aural (ear) hematomas, they appear between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap. They don't occur frequently in cats, but that makes it all the more important for pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma.
Causes & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Although this condition isn't often seen in cats when it does occur hematomas are typically caused by trauma or injury to the area. As a cat's ear is damaged the blood vessels rupture and leak into the surrounding area filling it with blood, creating the hematoma. The most common causes of cat eat hematomas include:
- Scratching and shaking of your cat's head caused by:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in ear canal
- Scratches or bites from the environment or other animals
- Underlying health concerns and conditions
Diagnosing Ear Hematomas in Cats
It is generally easy for a vet to diagnose ear hematomas during a physical exam. Your vet will do a visual exam of the ear and feel around the ears to look for any unusual swelling. Hematomas are most easily spotted if there is also an infection present.
If your vet is still unsure after a physical examination they may take a blood sample in order to determine the cause and confirm the hematoma.
How Ear Hematomas in Cats Can Be Treated
The most commonly recommended method to address the issue of ear hematomas is surgery. For pets that are unable to undergo anesthesia or if the hematoma is quite small then your vet may opt to drain it instead. This method will work to clear up the hematoma but is not a permanent solution as the condition is likely to present itself again. Ear hematoma surgery is a permanent solution for your pet's problem, and surgery will prevent excessive scarring from occurring.
During treatment, your vet will also treat any underlying cause of the hematoma in order to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Ear Hematoma Surgery for CatsThe most common and successful treatment for ear hematomas in cats is ear hematoma surgery. While the process itself may vary depending on the situation and veterinary surgeon there will always be standard steps in the process. These are:
- The vet surgeon will make a small incision at each end of the hematoma and remove the blood from the pinna. A drainage tube will be placed in the hematoma and sutured in place to continue draining any fluids that build up or the vet may opt to completely open the area to prevent a build-up of blood and fluids.
- The veterinary surgeon will close up the area where the blood accumulated permanently preventing further hematomas.
- The pinna will be supported to allow for proper healing through the recovery process.
Once the ear hematoma has been resolved your vet will treat any additional conditions related to the ear hematoma.
As your cat heals the vet will remove any drainage tubes, bandages or sutures when it is safe to do so.
Cat Hematoma Surgery Cost
The cost of your kitty's ear surgery will depend upon a number of variables including the severity and location of the hematoma, the size and overall health of your cat, and where your vet's office is located. To get an accurate estimate of how much your cat's hematoma surgery will cost speak to your vet. Most veterinary clinics are happy to provide clients with a written estimate and price breakdown. If there is anything on your estimate that you don't understand, your team of veterinary professionals will be able to explain the estimate to you in detail.
What Happens if Ear Hematomas Are Left Untreated
While ear hematomas will drain, heal and scar on their own this is not recommended. If left untreated, the following may occur.
- While healing the ear hematoma will cause swelling and pressure which will be very painful for your cat.
- The ear flap could become swollen and prevent you from being able to treat any infection that may be present.
- The process of ear hematomas in cats healing on their own could take a very long time.
- There is an increased possibility of ear hematomas reoccurring if left to heal on their own.
- If an ear hematoma heals naturally there is a good chance that it will leave an excess amount of scar tissue.
If your cat is experiencing an ear hematoma it is best to have it examined by their vet and treated through surgery to decrease pain, speed up healing and prevent this condition from happening again.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.