Surface tumours

Continued from last week


I had promised last week (and the week before) to deal with ear haematomas. It has now occurred to me that it would be more appropriate to firstly write about haematomas in general, before addressing ear haematomas more specifically.

Simply defined, a haematoma (sometimes spelled ‘hematoma’) is a localized collection of blood outside the blood vessels.

Before we continue I should mention, in passing, that blood, is mainly made up of serum and blood cells (white and red). Actually, some scientists regard blood as a liquid organ which connects all of the body’s other organs. But we won’t get into that discussion, at least not today.

pet cornerA seroma is similar to a haematoma, except that the fluid accumulation contains only serum – without the red blood cells being present.

Hematomas and seromas can occur in both dogs and cats and anywhere in the body. Subdermal (under the skin) hematomas/seromas form (as the name suggests) just below the skin surface, and are probably the most common type of haematoma or seroma.

However, haematomas and seromas can also occur within the head or brain, within other organs of the body and even on the ear (ie, aural haematoma – see next week).

Symptoms and types

Symptoms will depend on the location of the haematoma or seroma.

• Subdermal Hematomas and Seromas will result in a fluctuant swelling under the skin.

• Haematomas or seromas in the head/brain can cause a variety of symptoms, including comas, seizures and other neurological abnormalities.

• Haematomas and seromas in other organs may be asymptomatic (one does not see the signs), or may cause failure or dysfunction of the organ involved.


Trauma is the most common cause of haematomas and seromas. Other causes include blood clotting abnormalities which lead to excessive bleeding. Moreover, we have encountered as causes of haematomas/seromas: infections; allergies (which result in itching/scratching and the exaggerated shaking of the head); immune related ailments; fly bites on the tips of the ears; the screw-worm fly laying eggs in open wounds, the eggs then morphing into maggots, etc.


Diagnosis of a haematoma or seroma depends on the location as well. Subdermal haematoas and seromas can generally be diagnosed by a physical examination coupled with the evaluation of fluid withdrawn from the lesion. Haematomas and seromas in internal organs or in the brain/head may require special imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan) for diagnosis.


If small, the haematoma or seroma may be reabsorbed, and the condition may be resolved without intervention. Larger haematomas and seromas may need to be drained by your veterinarian. In some cases, it may be necessary to place a temporary drain in the area to allow further accumulation of blood and/or serum to drain from the area. I always recommend antibiotics because of the possibility of an encroaching infection.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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