The Cat With A Swollen Ear
Mu is a beautiful and sweet smoky colored 7 year old girl kitty who came to see Dr. Brandi Eskesen and Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital on July 31st, 2015. Her very astute owner noticed that her right ear was puffy and her ears had waxy debris in them. On examination her little ear flap was indeed puffy and swollen with fluid inside of it. Mu also had a lot of debris and inflammation down in her ear canal. Dr. Eskesen diagnosed her with an ear hematoma in her right ear and outer ear infection in both ears.
Ear hematomas are more common in dogs as they are more prone to ear infections but it is possible for cats to get them too. Hematomas happen when blood vessels between the two cartilage layers of the ear flap rupture and blood pools inside. This usually occurs because of trauma to the ears most often caused by scratching the ear or shaking the head; symptoms that go along with irritation from an ear infection.
There are two main ways to treat ear hematomas: medically or surgically. The surgery involves making a cut into the ear flap to allow blood to continue to drain from it and then passing sutures through the two pieces of cartilage, keeping them together so that there is no room for the blood to pool. This used to be the preferred method but now more and more we are starting to give the medical option a chance to see if we can avoid surgery.
Mu was placed on a regimen of prednisolone, a steroid to decrease swelling of the ear. Ear drops were used to clear the ear infection. She also came in every week to have the blood drained from her ear just through a little needle poke. She only needed this procedure twice before the fluid stopped collecting in her ear and the ear began to heal properly. Because scar tissue builds up in the cartilage, the ear may look a little wrinkly or small, but pets usually do fine once the healing process is over. If a hematoma happens in one ear it is more likely to happen in the opposite ear, so it is important to be aware of this and treat any underlying condition that may be contributing to the hematoma formation.
The doctors and staff at Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital were so happy to see Mu heal without the need for costly and invasive surgery!