An aural hematoma, or ear hematoma, is a blood-filled swelling that may develop on your cat's ear. In this article, our Madison veterinarians offer information about aural hematomas and their treatment.
What Is An Aural Hematoma?
An aural hematoma occurs when blood, either fresh or clotted, accumulates within the cat's ear flap (pinna).
The external ear of a cat has a layer of skin on both sides and a layer of cartilage that lies between the two layers of skin. Blood vessels run just beneath the skin.
If the ear canal becomes irritated, the cat may scratch or shake its head in response. Excessive or forceful shaking can lead to the rupture of one or more blood vessels, causing bleeding into the area between the ear cartilage and the inner ear skin.
How Do I Identify An Aural Hematoma?
An aural hematoma is characterized by the noticeable swelling of your cat's ear flap. The size of the swelling depends on the extent of the injury.
In cases where the sore is localized to a specific area of the pinna, the swelling may be small. However, in instances of larger hematomas, the entire ear flap will be affected, potentially causing it to sag due to the added weight of the hematoma.
The texture of an aural hematoma can be either spongy or firm when touched. It is probable that your cat will not respond positively to physical contact with the hematoma, as the pressure can be painful for them.
What Causes An Aural Hematoma?
Most cats that develop an aural hematoma have an infection, allergy, or some other type of ear inflammation that causes excessive scratching and head shaking.
Occasionally, foreign materials like ticks or grass can get stuck in the ear canal. These objects may have initially caused the head shaking and later got removed.
Cats with a bleeding or clotting disorder are more susceptible to developing an aural hematoma, with or without a history of trauma.
How Is An Aural Hematoma Treated?
Your veterinarian is likely to recommend a standard surgical procedure to address your cat's hematoma. Surgery offers a permanent and effective solution for the hematoma, preventing scars.
On top of an aural hematoma surgery, it's crucial to treat the underlying cause of the hematoma. So, if your cat has an ear infection that caused a hematoma to develop, that will need to be treated as well.
If the hematoma is mild or if your cat is unable to undergo anesthesia for the surgery, your vet may be able to drain the hematoma with a large needle. This isn't the ideal route to care for your cat's ear, though.
Without surgery, aural hematomas are likely to reoccur, sometimes even within a few hours.
What Is The Recovery Process After Surgery?
A cat may have some soreness for a few days following surgery. Still, your veterinarian will give you medication for your companion to address pain and inflammation, as well as antibiotics if indicated.
An Elizabethan collar will be required to prevent your cat from scratching its ear. This is crucial to minimize the potential for inflammation, bleeding, or premature suture removal.
Most cats will have a bandage on their head to help protect the ear and place gentle pressure.
Your vet will provide instructions on how to monitor and care for your cat at home post-surgery and inform you about the timing for follow-up checks and suture removal.
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.