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Aural Hematoma in Cats: When Is Surgery Needed?

If your cat suffers from an ear injury, it may result in an aural hematoma. Today, our Wisconsin Dells vets discuss aural hematomas in cats including the surgery performed to repair the issue.

Aural Hematomas in Cats

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 cat owners to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma. 

Causes & Symptoms of Aural Hematomas in Cats

Cat aural 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 and creating the hematoma. The most common causes of cat aural hematomas include scratches caused by:

  • Ear infection
  • Ear mites
  • Skin allergies
  • Foreign object in the ear canal
  • Animal bites

Diagnosis of Aural Hematomas in Cats

Diagnosing aural hematomas in cats can usually easily be done just by your vet visually examining or feeling the cat's ears and may be easiest to spot 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.

Treatment for Aural Hematomas in Cats

The most commonly recommended method to address the issue of aural 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. Aural 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 to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

Surgery for Aural Hematoma in Cats

The most common and successful treatment for ear hematomas in cats is aural hematoma surgery. While the process itself may vary depending on the situation the 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 aural hematoma has been fixed your vet will treat any additional conditions related to the aural hematoma.

As your cat heals the vet will remove any drainage tubes, bandages, or sutures when it is safe to do so.

Aural Hematomas if Left Untreated

While aural hematomas will drain, heal and scar on their own this is not recommended. If left untreated, the following may occur.

  • While healing the aural 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 aural hematomas in cats healing on their own could take a very long time.
  • There is an increased possibility of aural hematomas reoccurring if left to heal on their own.
  • If an aural 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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Is your cat showing signs of an aural hematoma? Contact our Wisconsin Dells vets to book an appointment to have our vets see your cat.

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