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If your pet has developed an enlarged, lumpy pinna (earflap), he may be suffering from a phenomenon known as an aural hematoma. These pools of blood within the ear may be caused by physical trauma and/or ear infections that cause the animal to shake his head or scratch his ear. This condition is not only extremely uncomfortable for your beloved companion, but they can lead to long-term complications if they aren't properly treated. That's why the veterinary team here at Fullerton Animal Hospital urges pet owners to schedule procedures to drain the ear at our pet hospital in Baltimore, MD.
An aural hematoma may occur whenever the delicate blood vessels inside the earflap are subjected to extreme stress. While accidents are fights can cause this kind of injury, the most common cause is the violent head shaking animals engage in when their ears are hurting or itching. The force of the shaking causes the blood vessels to burst, allowing blood to fill up the area underneath the skin. the resulting lump may feel soft or hard, depending on how much of the earflap is involved. As the animal continues to shake his head from the discomfort, the hematoma grows worse and worse. Eventually it can block the entrance to the ear canal, impairing your dog or cat's hearing and making an underlying ear infection harder to treat.
Draining an aural hematoma can resolve these issues. Options include:
Natural means - In many cases a small hematoma will drain and recede by itself, leaving a "crinkled" but otherwise healthy earflap. But a serious hematoma that goes untreated can cause major scarring, effectively narrowing the ear canal. This is bad for your pet in the long term because it will predispose him to a lifetime of painful chronic ear infections.
Syringe - The simplest means of draining an aural hematoma is to insert a syringe and draw the blood and other fluids out. Unfortunately, this method is relatively inefficient, possibly requiring several sessions to remove the accumulated fluid. Since the puncture hole heals right back up, more fluid will continue to build up.
Surgery - Surgery is the most effective way to permanently drain an aural hematoma. As our veterinarian creates an incision to allow the fluid to exit, sutures are added to keep the wound open long enough for complete drainage to occur over 7 to 10 days, after which the sutures are removed. A variation of this approach involves sewing a tiny drain into the earflap to let fluid pass through.
If your pet is shaking his head, pawing at his ear, or displaying visible signs of an aural hematoma, bring him to our Baltimore, MD pet hospital for an evaluation. Our veterinarians can recommend the proper course of treatment for the hematoma while also administering treatment for any underlying infection that may be present. Contact us today at (410) 665-6996!