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Aural Hematoma in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

  • Your veterinarian will evaluate the ear closely and will palpate (feel) the swelling.

  • Your veterinarian will also examine the external ear canal. Visual inspection of the ear canal may be followed by otoscopic examination. Some dogs may tolerate this procedure quite well, but others may resist and squirm, necessitating sedation or even general anesthesia. For this reason, a detailed examination of the ear canal may be done at the time of surgical treatment of the hematoma.

    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.

  • Skull radiographs, in cases where underlying external or middle ear disease is suspected, are also obtained under general anesthesia. Radiographs are only necessary if the canal is narrowed and occluded, preventing visual evaluation of the ear drum. When available, computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be more helpful than radiography to evaluate involvement of the middle ear.

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