Large animal masses


Hematomas generally develop after trauma or with bleeding disorders. A good physical examination and history will help determine if a bleeding issue is present. Otherwise most hematomas resolve on their own, albeit slowly.  Generally equine hematomas turn into a seroma and then into a fibrous scar. Very big hematomas can calcify; most often this does not cause issues. If a large hematoma is in a sensitive area or is expanding, it is good to get a consultation with a specialist to determine if physical therapy or other treatment is indicated to minimize motion restriction from the scar tissue. Penile or scrotal hematomas in horses and cattle also require specialist care to prevent further complications or additional injury.

Cattle can seed hematomas with bacteria from another site. A cow with mastitis, metritis or footrot can rapidly change a hematoma into an abscess. Just wait it out (with good monitoring) and then treat the abscess.  This complication is less common in other species; however, pigs may also be at higher risk.

Lancing the demons- you do want to make sure the area isn’t actively bleeding or this could cause other issues. If it is still enlarging, don’t lance.

This bull’s abscess started as a hematoma from battling with another animal:

Key Takeaways

Hematomas are cool, nonpainful, and typically resolve over time without treatment.

  • Bovine hematomas often turn into abscesses



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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.