Case Study: PitBull & Aural Hematoma
Note: Small change made for clarity - thank you Catbird!! :)
Patient and Symptoms:
A 2 1/2 year old female American Pit Bull Terrier presents with a swollen ear. She seems to be in some discomfort demonstrated by shaking her head and flapping her ears vigorously. Then again, the patient does that periodically - especially when tired but trying to wake herself up to be part of the action - so examiner draws no conclusions.
About half of the ear flap is puffy and looks like it's filled up with air. The examiner uses the snack method to distract patient for ear observation. The ear feels full, almost, if the examiner remembers correctly, like a water balloon not full enough to break unless thrown really hard. Examiner notes patient's appetite undeterred by ear problem.
Diagnosis via Google:
The various descriptions of the condition seem right but are finally clinched on the aural hematoma page of the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Although a technical medical description, it is the confirmation the examiner is looking for: "The ear flap will feel fluctuant and fluid-filled, like a water balloon."
Diagnosis via Veterinarian:
The patient is brought by examiner to Channel Islands Veterinary Hospital for a consult. Everyone is very nice and examiner makes an additional note that patient's tail is functioning normally - even exceptionally well if encouraged by office staff and free treats.
Dr. Anderson comes in for the consult and listens carefully to examiner's assessment, (proving, yet again that Patience/Good Humor 101 is a required course for vets -- not the elective it seems to be at some other medical schools.) He does a quick exam and verifies the aural hematoma. He also examines the ear canal to make sure there is no infection causing patient to traumatize ear and to show that Google can't do everything. The ears are reported to be clear, heart beat is good, etc.
Treatment Choices Offered:
1) Not recommended - do nothing. The ear can eventually heal itself. This will probably leave the ear cauliflowered and uneven and could even affect patient's hearing. (Examiner has brief flashes of ears she pictures as cauliflowered: Rocky, Someone Up There Likes Me, Raging Bull.) Before the possibility of hearing loss is mentioned, examiner has dismissed this choice.
2) Perform an aspiration (drain it) and inject it with some anti-inflammatory to take the swelling of the blood vessels down. This treatment doesn't have the highest rate of success and there is a good chance the condition will recur. It is usually the first method tried, though.
3) Surgery. The patient is put under....The examiner's brain again short-circuits and tunes out the next part of this choice.
Option 2 is selected.
Treatment and Outcome:
The ear is aspirated and 6mls of fluid are drawn out. It is reinjected with 1 mg anti-inflammatory.
After a week and a half with one re-check, the area of concern is looking good. The ears are still very cute and floppy but there is a very small fluid build up which finally disappeared a few days later.
No calls from the veterinary medical journals yet but other floppy-eared dogs might like to take notice.
pitbull, pit bull