Cat Ear Hematoma Treatment

A hematoma is a painful condition often affecting the ears of cats. In cats, ear hematomas form when a blood vessel in the ear ruptures and the space between the skin and cartilage begins to fill with blood. Pressure can cause the ear to swell; swelling can develop within minutes of the blood vessel's rupture. If left untreated, the hematoma can cause permanent scarring of the ear.

Ear Hematomas and Risk Factors

Ear hematomas are known to veterinarians by the medical terms "aural hematomas" or "auricular hematomas". Hematomas are one of the most common ear problems animals suffer. They are quite painful, and if not treated, can cause permanent disfiguration of the ear.

An ear hematoma forms when a blood vessel bursts or ruptures in the ear. Blood fills the space between the skin and cartilage of the ear. Swelling is rapid and the hematoma forms within minutes of the vessel's rupture. Cats suffering from ear hematoma with have a swollen, fluid-filled ear that is tender to the touch.

Cats of any age can develop ear hematomas. There is generally an underlying medical condition at play, usually a chronic ear infection, ear mites or allergies that cause the affected ear to itch. Itching can cause your cat to shake his head or scratch his ear excessively, which can cause blood vessels in the ear to rupture, leading to hematoma.

Treating Ear Hematoma in Cats

Treatment of ear hematoma depends on how quickly the hematoma is diagnosed, the size of the hematoma and, oftentimes, your vet's personal treatment preferences.

There are several ways to treat cat ear hematoma. One popular surgery involves making an incision on the underside of the ear, draining the blood, and then suturing the ear. The ear may be bandaged or not. This procedure creates little scarring and carries little risk of hematoma recurrence.

Another surgical option involves draining the blood and then taping the ear over a rolled bandaged to allow it time to heal. This procedure is often used in show cats, because it produces no scarring at all. However, this procedure requires more intensive post-op care to prevent infection and permanent disfigurement.

If the hematoma is small or old, your vet might perform a needle aspiration. In this procedure, a syringe is used to remove the fluid. If there are no blood clots in the ear, it can be allow to heal without surgery. Some vets may also place a canula or drain in the ear to allow blood and fluid to escape without surgery.

Following hematoma surgery, your vet will take steps to treat any underlying conditions that may have contributed to the hematoma's development.

Preventing Ear Hematomas

Hematoma can be prevented by protecting your cat's ears from trauma. Self-trauma is the most common cause of hematoma; if your cat begins to scratch excessively or shake his head frequently, seek medical attention as these are signs of ear problems. Treat all ear infections and mite infestations promptly. If your cat shows symptoms of allergies, seek diagnosis and treatment immediately.