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Equine Diseases - Haematoma
A Haematoma, or blood under the skin, is a semisolid mass of blood in the tissues, caused by injury, disease, a break in the blood vessels or a clotting disorder. A Haematoma can also be known as a Blood blister.
Haematomas are often caused by bruising of the underlying tissue in the horse's body. The make-up of the horse's body with loose skin and large fluid-carrying vessels under the skin makes it prone to collecting pockets of blood which ooze from damaged blood vessels. Haematomas develop quite quickly – within a few hours after a direct blow, you will see the soft swelling containing the pooled blood forming under the skin. The size of the haematoma can very in size from a ping-pong ball to a pumpkin.
The chest is the most frequent area of injury because of kicks and falls.
Many haematomas will heal without treatment, but you should have vet check them out to rule out any other cause of the lump.
SYMPTOMS OF EQUINE HAEMATOMA
CAUSES OF EQUINE HAEMATOMA
TREATMENT OF EQUINE HAEMATOMA
Large haematomas need veterinary attention. The treatment will vary considerably from horse to horse as haematomas vary so much in location, size and seriousness. Your vet will probably want to wait a few days to allow the blood vessels to stop oozing blood before trying to drain the fluid and remove blood clots by perhaps opening the haematoma. This has to be done by the vet in order to minimise the risk of infection and complications. Most vets like to leave the haematoma alone because of the high risk factor with infections from bacteria.
Medication such as antibiotics or bute may then be prescribed.
Your vet may also advise a tetanus booster or antitoxin injection to guard against tetanus spores.
Your vet may also physically try to break down the clot by gently massaging the area. This can be painful so must be undertaken gently. Never try to do this yourself.
If you can get either Arnica or ice on the swelling very soon after the injury has been inflicted it will have great effect. Repeat the procedure after an hour or so.
When the haematoma has gone down, your horse may not look quite the same as he did beforehand! When large haematomas are not drained and clots removed, deformed scar tissue often results. Your vet can give treatment for this and massage therapy is also very helpful in avoiding the scars.