While uncommon, your cat may experience injury to its ears that result in hematomas. Today, our Los Angeles vets discuss ear hematomas in cats and everything you need to know about surgery to treat this condition.
Ear Hematomas in Cats
A hematoma, also known as a "blood blister," is a blood pocket that forms inside an organ or tissue. Aural (ear) hematomas develop between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap, though their size and location can vary. Cat ear hematomas don't happen often, but that just makes it more crucial for pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops one.
Causes & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Cat ear 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 eat hematomas include:
- Scratching and shaking of your cat's head caused by:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in the ear canal
- Scratches or bites from the environment or other animals
- Underlying health concerns and conditions
Diagnosis of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Diagnosing ear 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 to determine the cause and confirm the hematoma.
Treatment for Ear Hematomas in Cats
The most commonly recommended method to address the issue of ear hematomas is surgery. If your pet is unable to be sedated or if the hematoma is small, your veterinarian may choose to drain it instead. This method will clear up the hematoma, but it is not a permanent solution because the condition is likely to reoccur. Ear hematoma surgery is a permanent solution to your pet's problem, and it prevents excessive scarring.
During treatment, your vet will also treat any underlying cause of the hematoma to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Ear Hematoma Surgery for Cats
The 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:
- A small incision will be made at each end of the hematoma to remove the blood from the pinna. A drainage tube will be sutured into the hematoma to drain any fluids that builds up or the vet may choose to completely open the area to prevent a buildup 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 cat's recovery process after ear hematoma surgery.
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.
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. Ask your vet directly about the cost of ear hematoma surgery for cats. They should be able to provide you with a more accurate estimate.