Causes of Aural Hematomas
An dog aural hematoma is a localized collection of blood between the skin on the inner side of the ear flap (the “pinna”) and the auricular cartilage that contributes to the shape and stiffness of the ear. “Auricular,” and “aural,” mean pertaining to or coming from the ear.
Aural hematomas are caused by bleeding from one or more terminal branches of the auricular artery, which provides the blood supply to the ears. The hematoma usually results from trauma to the ear caused by vigorous head-shaking or ear scratching by the dog as a result of pruritus (intense itchiness), which most frequently is associated with an outer ear infection (otitis externa). Other causes of ear irritation, self-trauma and subsequent aural hematomas include atopy, food allergy, flea bite hypersensitivity, parasitic infestation (flea, mite, tick, other) and the presence of foreign bodies that are lodged in the ear canal. Trauma to the ear from some external source can also lead to formation of an aural hematoma.
Trauma to the ear leads to inflammation and break-down of the auricular cartilage and rupture of the fragile superficial blood vessels in the ear flap. As blood leaks out, it becomes trapped between the skin and the ear cartilage, causing the focal swelling known as an aural hematoma.
Prevention of Aural Hematomas
The best and most realistic way to prevent aural hematomas is to prevent the itchiness or other discomfort that causes a dog to shake its head or scratch its ears vigorously. This includes eliminating any parasitic infestation, treating and resolving any ear infection, identifying and resolving food or other allergies and removing any inciting foreign bodies.
Aural hematomas are among the most commonly treated surgical conditions in domestic dogs.