Overview of Feline Aural Hematoma
Aural hematoma, commonly called a pillow ear, is an accumulation of blood within the cartilage layers of the ear. They usually appear as fluid-filled swellings on the concave (underneath) surface of the pinna, which is the pointed or floppy portion of the ear. The exact cause is poorly understood but any condition that leads to head shaking or ear scratching such as bacterial ear infection or ear mites may be responsible.
Aural hematomas can be painful to the touch and may aggravate an underlying ear disease. Left untreated, the swelling may eventually resolve on its own, leaving the ear deformed, a so-called “cauliflower ear.”
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Aural Hematoma in Cats
Treatment of Aural Hematoma in Cats
Home Care and Prevention
In-depth Information on Feline Aural Hematoma
Very few other medical problems resemble an aural hematoma. The fluid-filled swelling of the pinna is characteristic. Occasionally, an abscess or a tumor of the pinna might have a somewhat similar appearance.
An abscess may occur secondary to a penetrating foreign body or a bite wound. An infection could become established between the cartilage plates leading to the formation of a pocket of pus. Differentiation from a hematoma is simple, using needle aspiration. The abscess produces yellow or green pus; the hematoma yields blood.
A tumor of the pinna requires needle aspiration to obtain cells for examination on a slide, under a microscope. Differentiation between a bloody or fluid-filled tumor from a hematoma may be possible with this technique. Failing this, a biopsy specimen may be obtained. Tumors of the pinna are normally firm, fleshy or ulcerative (bleeding) and, therefore, quite different from an aural hematoma.
In-Depth Veterinary Care for Feline Aural Hematoma
Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.
Visualization of the horizontal and vertical ear canal, together with the tympanic membrane or ear drum, is essential as part of the work-up for an underlying cause of the aural hematoma. Cultures may be obtained at this time to see what bacteria or fungi are growing in the ear and to what medications it is sensitive. Cotton-tipped swabs can obtain samples from the ear canal, be smeared onto a slide and evaluated under a microscope for parasites such as ear mites and yeast.
Home Care for Feline Aural Hematomas
A veterinary consultation should be sought as soon as an aural hematoma is discovered, although this is NOT a surgical emergency.