All Pets Veterinary Clinic
Ear Hematoma

This dog was presented to All Pets with a large swelling in his right ear. The
dog's entire ear flap was swollen. The dog was diagnosed with an aural, or ear

An ear hematoma is a collection of blood, blood clots, and/or fibrous tissue that
gets trapped between the skin and cartilage of the ear. They are common in animals
that have ear infections. Ear infections are often very itchy and uncomfortable and
cause animals to shake their heads and scratch at their ear. The blunt trauma results
in bleeding in the space between the skin and cartilage. The blood pools in this
space and causes the ear to be heavy and uncomfortable.

Treatment is two-fold. First the hematoma must be opened to allow the blood to drain.
Any blood clots and fibrous tissue are removed. The picture at the left shows blood
clots and fibrous tissue.

Sutures are placed along the incision to close the dead-space and prevent the
reaccumulation of fluid. Proper placement of staggering sutures forces blood to
drain from the incision. The incision is left open and allowed to heal over the next
few weeks. The second part of treatment involves treating the underlying cause of the
hematoma. Most often this is an ear infection. Without treatment, ear hematomas
will eventually resolve. However, the ear will often scar and shrivel. Proper surgical
treatment allows for a more rapid resolution of clinical signs and maintains the normal
ear shape.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
5 March 2005