An aural hematoma is a lesion or cut on the ear that can affect your cat and the deeper tissue of their ear canal. Here, our Bellevue vets discuss the symptoms of aural hematomas in cats and when surgery is required to correct them.
What Is An Aural Hematoma?
An aural hematoma is a collection of blood (fresh or clotted) that gathers in the flap of a cat's ear (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.
When something irritates the ear canal, your cat will respond by scratching or shaking its head. Excessive or violent shaking causes one or more blood vessels to break, resulting in bleeding into the space between the ear cartilage and the skin on the inner surface of the ear.
How Do I Identify An Aural Hematoma?
With an aural hematoma, you will notice that your cat's ear flap appears swollen.
The swelling may be small if the sore is confined to just one part of the pinna. For larger hematomas, the whole ear flap will be impacted, and the weight of the hematoma may cause the ear flap to droop.
An aural hematoma may feel spongy or firm to the touch. More than likely, your cat will not be happy with you touching it as the pressure can be painful.
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.
In some cases, there may be a piece of foreign material lodged in the ear canal, such as a tick or a piece of grass. It is also possible that a foreign body initiated the shaking but was later dislodged.
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 vet will very likely recommend a routine surgical procedure to treat your cat's hematoma. Surgery provides a permanent and efficient solution for the hematoma and prevents 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 come back (they can even come back 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 necessary as well, to prevent your cat from scratching its ear. This is important as it will reduce the risk of inflammation, bleeding, or accidentally removing the sutures too soon.
Most cats will have a bandage on their head to help protect the ear and place gentle pressure.
Your vet will let you know how to monitor and care for your cat at home after surgery, and when to come back in for rechecks 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.