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Ear hematoma...anesthesia risk

9721 Views 28 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Arearis
Yesterday morning I discovered a large watery bump on the top of my 6 year old german shepherds ear. So I called the vet and we went this morning. She said it was a hematoma and he needed surgery. So I scheduled the surgery for tuesday even though I havent made my mind up on having it done. I am worried about the anesthesia risk. I dont want to risk his life over something that isnt life threatening. I have read that larger breeds are more at risk and also overweight dogs. He weighs in at 126lbs but doesnt look over weight at all. He has be fixed but he was already fixed when I got him and I have no info on how he did under anesthesia for that. So I am curious is it worth it? Are german shepherds more sensitive to any certain anesthesia?
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Are they going to drain the hematoma and tack the ear? My cat had that done about 10 years ago.

As long as you have pre-surgery bloodwork done and it checks out, I think your dog will be fine.

I would be more worried about what caused that hematoma. Your dog has some sort of underlying health condition (food or environmental allergies, most likely) that caused that to form.
No, they usually do fine. I'd find out what kind of anesthesia your vet clinic uses - there is a big difference between older school injectables and newer gas anesthesias. The newer gases are very safe and the fact that he's already been anesthetized successfully is good.

I'd also find out how many of these hematoma surgeries your vet has done and the outcome. My brother and I have each had dogs go through that surgery (Shepherd/Husky mix for me - one ear, Shepherd/Chow mix for him - both ears) and all three of the ears scarred down. They were done at different clinics by very competent vets but...

Anyway, not life threatening and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but they looked awful. Seems like if you're going to take the surgery risk it'd be nice if your dog came out with two pointy ears again.

If you end up getting the surgery done you might want to do some research on things you can do so that the ear heals back more or less normally.
Yes they are going to drain it and tack it back. He will have to wear a cone for 2 weeks so that isnt going to be fun. Well I know what caused the hematoma or atleast I think I do. My brother has a very rowdy 1 yr old black lab that comes over every now and then to play and they get very ruff so my guess is she bite his ear alittle too hard the other day when they were outside playing. The vet did a full exam and he seems to be completely heathly no ear infections or other itching issues. I clean his ears once a week along with all of my other dogs because my jack russell keeps bad ear infections. The vet did inform me his ear would not stand up properly ever again and I ask her about her experience with these surgeries because I know there is a risk of them coming back and she said that in 15 yrs she has had one come back to have another surgery. So I am going to have the blood work done and go from there. My main concern is it bursting here at home if it is left untreated or it coming back. How long do hematomas normally take to heal on there own.
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Did you vet tell you anything more about hematomas and how they are normally treated?

Basically, the term hematoma is used when you have any kind of abnormal space underneath the skin that fills with blood. Hematomas are generally caused by injury which breaks blood vessels under the skin and causes a pocket to form and fill with the blood. In cats and dogs, it's usually due to shaking their heads or scratching their ears due to allergies or illness, but it can also be due to playing with other dogs, and the like.

There are a couple of different ways a vet can treat a hematoma. The first is aspiration, which means draining the hematoma. Since that doesn't close the "space" created by it, it can fill up again, so this isn't a very good fix. The second is surgery, such as what your vet has probably planned. Here, they drain the ear and then tack the two sides together to hold the "gap" caused by the hematoma closed until it heals up. And the last option is o open the ear up and place a drain in it and let it drain and heal.

Surgery is the easiest way to fix it and usually has the best results, although if the hematoma is at the tip of the dog's ear, there is no absolute guarantee that the ear will look just like before or that it will remain standing. It is not uncommon for ears to flop over at the top if that's where the hematoma was located.

Hematomas in the bottom part of the ear sometimes can be left alone as the blood does eventually absorb, however, the ear won't go back to normal, it'll look somewhat bumpy. (They call this "cauliflower ear".)

I would recommend you go with your vet's recommendation about fixing the ear, especially since it is the top / tip of the ear where the hematoma is located. That'll probably be the best chance of keeping the ear a normal shape.
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Quote:My main concern is it bursting here at home if it is left untreated or it coming back
I wouldn't be worried about it "bursting" - it's just blood underneath the skin and would drain if it "burst". Unless it is tacked or has a drain placed in it, it will definitely fill back up, even after draining with a needle.
Skye had a hematoma a couple of years ago (the vet refered to it as pillow ear). Reno was really young and ruptured a blood vessel in her ear.

Our vet did a drain and for the first couple of days we had to put her in the tub and gentlly massage her ear to help the process along. She was put under for the procedure and did very well.

She had the drain for about 5 days. She tolerated it all very well. It has been 3 years. You can only tell when you pet that ear, you feel scar tissue.
Well it seems a bit drastic to me to have him put under for something that isnt going to harm him health wise. I mean is a deformed ear the worse that will happen if I just leave it alone? It hasnt got any bigger since yesterday and the vet said it wouldnt if he will leave it alone long enough for it to clot up. So he has been staying in as much as possible which isnt hard to make him do with the heat outside and he hasnt been shaking his head so is it possible for it to go away on its own without and harming his health?
Originally Posted By: ArearisWell it seems a bit drastic to me to have him put under for something that isnt going to harm him health wise. I mean is a deformed ear the worse that will happen if I just leave it alone? It hasnt got any bigger since yesterday and the vet said it wouldnt if he will leave it alone long enough for it to clot up. So he has been staying in as much as possible which isnt hard to make him do with the heat outside and he hasnt been shaking his head so is it possible for it to go away on its own without and harming his health?
You can chose either way, here is what I found:

Small hematomas may heal without a problem but any hematoma has the potential to cause scarring of the ear, which can result in a crumpled looking ear. If the scarring is severe it can partially obstruct the ear canal, which can be a serious complication if ear infections occur. Large hematomas should be treated surgically or medically.

Surgery usually involves making an incision on the inner aspect of the ear and draining the blood, removing any blood clots that are left and then suturing the two sides of the ear together by putting sutures all the way through it, in a "mattress" pattern. Sometimes it is possible just to place a drain and massage the blood out of the ear daily until it heals.

Medical treatment is accomplished by giving a cortisone product, such as prednisone, to control the itching and scarring and waiting for the ear to heal, which might take a month or more. It may be necessary to use an antibiotic at the same time and it is always important to identify and eliminate any underlying cause, such as fleas or ear mites.
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If there are no signs of infection in the ear, then the dog should not be shaking its heat, unless the dog is uncomfortable.

Arwen had one crop up when she was pregnant. It made the ear fall over. I could not think of surgery at that point and treated the ear infection with antibiotics in the ear only. I wanted to fix the ear so I glued it with Dr. Scholls insoles -- had a friend help me. Well, we were not lucky. Maybe if I drained it first that would have worked, but we did not want to stress her out and have a wound where we could not get at it.

The hematoma went away. I am not sure how long it took, maybe a couple of weeks. But her poor ear falls forward now. It gives her character.
The eldest had a huge but low hematoma. Went through surgery, had it tacked and it is fine. That's been several years back and we have had no recurrence. Her ear stands.
Yea he has no ear infections. The vet said inside of his ears look great which is no surprise because I keep them as clean as I can. I have seen him shake his head a few times but right now our AC unit is out and it is really hot so I am sure between the heat in here and a heavy flopped over ear he has to be somewhat uncomfortble. The ac should be fixed tonight or tomorrow so once that is done it will help out alot. As long as it hasnt gotten any bigger by monday I am going to talk to my vet about maybe trying to medically treating it first. I really dont mind if his ear is forever droppy and I prefer not to take the risk of surgery if it is not life threatening.
Originally Posted By: selzer I wanted to fix the ear so I glued it with Dr. Scholls insoles -- had a friend help me.

How did you do this. I was thinking of doing something like this just to relieve the heaviness on his ear but I not sure if it will help or make him digg at his ear and make it worse. Has it ever reoccured in her ear since that? It isnt huge and the swelling has stopped as of now. It is maybe an inch and a half long. Is there any chance a infection setting up in the pocket? Thanks for all of the info, and For tolerating all of the questions but I just want to make the best decision for my dog.
I would take the dog to the vet and discuss what your options are.

Hematomas generally do dry up by themselves, but like everyone said, it doesn't present a very pretty appearance. If you are not worried about the appearance of the ear and your vet is monitoring your dog to make sure you don't have to worry about infection or other problems, then you can certainly leave it alone. There is a very good chance that the ear will remain flopped over or look "knobbly" once it has healed, though.
Ok so the vet called me and I asked about draining it she said she thought it was to big to just drain it. But from the way she talks she claims it will not go away on its own and will get bigger and bigger so I dont know. I think I might go get a second opinion
whether you do surgery or not, it is likely that the ear will stay flopped. At least, my vet told me that. I couldn't concidering Arwen's condition. Besides being flopped, Arwen's ear is perfectly fine.

When we glued the ear, we cut the insole, mole foam I think, to the shape of her ear, then glued her ear around it and then taped it, the same way a lot of people glue puppies ears. The tape comes off relatively quickly. But it is only used to give the thing shape until it sets. I am not sure what kind of glue she used.

This was on the upper portion of the ear, the lower portion, or base of the ear was available to put the medicine in.

Unfortunately the ear doesn't stand anymore anyway, so I would not recommend this. However the hematoma did go away on its own and the infection healed, and so far we have not had another hematoma.
Selzer, not all ears collapse after a hematoma repair.
Arearis, the longer you wait, the less apt you are to have a successful repair with a standing ear.
I had Cleo's ear drained and then tacked. 10 years later it is a bit lumpy (from the tacking material) but it still stands. I'm very glad I did it because she's had reoccurring ear infections and I'm sure the hematoma would have returned.
I think at this point I am going to hold off on surgery. It hasnt gotten any bigger in 2 day now and he isnt shakeing his head. I am going to start wrapping it with a ace bandage around his head when he goes outside to try to prevent further damage and I am going to call the vet tomorrow about getting some antibotics in case it opens up just to help it heal and fight any infection he might get. I am not at all concerned about the apperience of his ear. He isnt a show dog, he is a member of the family and we will love him regardless. Though I will miss those perfectly perked ears, As long as he is healthly I am happy. I just dont feel comfortable jumping straight into surgery over something that could correct itself and isnt life threatening.
middleofnowhere, not all hematomas are the same. Arwen had one that we gave her steroids for, and cleaned up the infection and the ear NEVER fell. The second one did. We discussed surgery the first time as she was not pregnant, but the vet said that she has had NO luck getting them to stand again after surgery. So we did not do surgery and I had about two years grace with the perfect ears. Then she cropped up with another one practically overnight. That one caused the ear to fall.

I said that it is likely that it will not stand, I did not say that it is impossible.
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