What is an ear hematoma?
An ear hematoma (also known as aural hematoma) is a localised collection of clotted blood from broken blood vessels on the ear flap (pinna). This hematoma trapped between the skin and the cartilage of the ear.
What causes an ear hematoma?
When the cat scratches or shakes his head it eventually causes a blood vessel to rupture, resulting in a hematoma.
There are several causes of ear hematoma including:
- Violent head shaking or scratching of the ear. This could be caused by ear mites, ticks, fleas, allergies, otitis externa (infection of the external ear canal).
Ear hematomas are extremely painful and require prompt veterinary attention.
What are the symptoms of ear hematoma in cats?
Swelling of the ear. This may be partial or the entire ear may become swollen and filled with blood. The ear will feel soft, warm and fluid filled. Failure to seek treatment could cause the swelling to lead to permanent disfigurement (cauliflower ear).
How is it diagnosed?
Your veterinarian should be able to diagnose an ear hematoma based on appearance, however, as tumours and abscess can also have similar symptoms to ear hematomas your veterinarian may need to differentiate between these conditions. He may perform a fine needle aspirate, which involves drawing out some of the fluid from the ear and analyzing it under a microscope. If it contains blood, this will confirm an ear hematoma.
He will also need to determine what caused the hematoma, for example, does the cat have an ear infection, parasites etc?
How is an ear hematoma treated?
There are several methods for dealing with ear hematomas in cats. These include:
- The simplest method is to use a needle to remove the fluid from the ear. Cortisone is then injected into the ear. This method is best for small hematomas only. This method isn't always effective and the hematoma may recur.
- Larger hematomas require surgical treatment. Typically this involves making an incision and draining the fluid and blood clots from the ear. The incision will either be left partially open to allow for drainage of any fluids that may continue to leak or he may place a drain in the ear. He may either place multiple sutures in the ear and or bandage the ear to prevent further damage and avoid the hematoma recurring.
Finding and treating the cause of the itching/scratching that leads to the hematoma. Ie; eliminating parasites, treating infection etc.