A hematoma is basically a large blood blister, an accumulation of blood and other fluids trapped underneath the skin, usually caused by some kind of trauma. The most common type of hematomas seen in dogs is the aural hematoma, or swelling of the ear flap. Surgery is the easiest and most effective way to treat hematomas, though note that most will resolve on their own over time. The cost for most hematoma surgeries will be $100 or less, but price can be influenced by several factors.
Causes and Symptoms
Hematomas occur for many different reasons, most often from some kind of trauma to the underlying tissues. Blood and fluids collect over the top of the damaged tissue, causing pain, swelling and overall discomfort to the dog. In an aural hematoma, the trauma usually results from head shaking in response to an ear infection. Dogs with long droopy ears are most prone to this condition. As the dog shakes its head, the cartilage in the ear flaps can be injured when they strike walls, furniture or any other surface, which can cause bleeding. Since there is little room for expansion in the ear flap, the skin begins to balloon out from the cartilage, creating a large pocket of accumulated blood and fluid. The dog will usually walk with his head tilted toward the injured side and may yelp when touched.
Surgery is the most viable option for a hematoma. The general procedure involves opening and draining the fluid, inseting an artifical drain to keep the wound open and promote healing, then removal of the drain and healing of the wound. This procedure can be most often performed in an office with minimal amounts of anesthesia and on an outpatient basis, for around $100.
Severity of Condition
One factor that may increase the cost of the surgery is the severity of the hematoma. In large hematomas, it may be safer to completely anesthetize the dog, as draining the wound can be quite painful. If a dog is anesthetized, the cost of the procedure will go up dramatically. This is due to the use of expensive inhalant anesthetic drugs, the use of the operating suite, and having multiple personnel on hand in case of an emergency.
Another factor that may drive up the price is the age of the dog. If complete anesthesia is required to treat the hematoma, an older dog will generally have a blood chemistry panel performed to determine his suitability for surgery. The bloodwork will provide the veterinarian with vital statistics regarding the dog's overall health, but will add cost to the procedure.
Internal hematomas are generally not treated surgically and are normally left to resolve on their own. However, if an internal hematoma is causing life-threatening conditions, such as pressure on the heart or lungs, surgical intervention may be required. Any hematoma that requires invasive internal surgery will have a much larger cost, with the procedure itself costing several hundred to several thousand dollars, and then tacking on the cost of bloodwork, anesthesia and overnight stays.