An aural hematoma is a collection of blood within the cartilage of the ear and the skin. It usually arises as a self-inflicted injury from your pet’s scratching and head shaking. The underlying causes include all conditions that result in otitis externa (infection of the external ear canal).
Hematoma formation has also been associated with increased capillary fragility (e.g., as seen with Cushing’s disease). Aural hematoma is the most common result of physical injury or trauma to the pinna (the “flap” of the ear). The condition is common in dogs with chronic otitis externa and less common in cats.
Sources of irritation to the ear linked to the development of an aural hematoma include:
- immune mediated diseases
- foreign bodies
- trauma (bite wound or blunt trauma)
Most animals usually have an associated infection. Recurrence of the condition is common if the underlying condition is not resolved.
Treatment of an ear hematoma is two-fold: 1) resolving the swelling, and 2) finding the root cause of the problem. The best resolution for ear hematomas is usually surgery. Measures short of surgery, such as aspiration, have significant drawbacks