A hematoma is a type of blood blister and when these occur in your feline friend's ears we call them ear or aural hematomas. Here, our Citrus Heights vets talk about how ear hematomas develop and how we use surgery to treat this condition in cats.
What is an ear (aural) hematoma?
This hematoma is a pocket of blood, or blood blister, that forms within a cat's skin tissue or organ. 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 pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma.
Treating Ear Hematomas in Cats
If your cat develops an ear hematoma, your vet will likely recommend that surgery be performed to drain the blood. 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. Ear hematoma surgery is a permanent solution for your pet's problem, and surgery will prevent excessive scarring from occurring.
While your cat is being treated for the ear hematoma, the vet will also address the underlying cause if possible in order to prevent a reoccurrence.
What happens during my cat's ear hematoma surgery?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:
- Your cat's veterinary 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.
- Then the 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 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 should I expect after my cat has ear hematoma surgery?
Your kitty may experience some tenderness or discomfort for a few days following their procedure, but your vet is sure to provide medications to address pain and prevent infection and inflammation.
Your cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to stop them from scratching the surgical site and causing inflammation, bleeding, pulled stitches, or infection.
You will receive instructions and helpful advice from your vet on how to administer home care for your feline friend as they are recovering from surgery at home, as well as when to return for follow-up visits and to have the stitches removed.
What will happen if my cat's ear hematoma isn't treated?
While ear hematomas will sometimes drain, heal and scar on their own this is not recommended. Untreated hematomas can lead to the following:
- Pain caused by swelling and pressure that could last for weeks.
- Swollen ear flap that can prevent effective treatment of any infection that may be present.
- The process of ear hematomas in cats healing on their own could take a very long time.
- A greatly extended healing time.
- Excessive scar tissue gives the ear a distorted appearance.
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 reoccurring.
How much does cat ear hematoma surgery cost?
Surgery to treat ear hematomas in cats varies considerably from one vet to another, from one geographical location to another, and even from one cat to another. The cost of your cat's ear hematoma surgery will depend on a number of factors including the severity of the hematoma and the overall health of your feline friend.
You can speak with your vet to get an estimate of the cost for your cat's specific surgery and treatment needs. Most animal hospitals are happy to supply clients with an estimate containing a detailed breakdown of the various costs involved in procedures such as surgery.
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.