Seroma in dogs - Symptoms and treatment

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Seromas are a accumulation of blood serum under the skin, in the subdermal area, although sometimes they can develop between the muscles. Mainly, it is one of the possible complications in surgery, especially after ventral midline surgery. Although many are naturally resorbable by the dog's body, in other cases it will be necessary to remove the fluid and even place a drain..

To prevent its appearance, a delicate surgical process and an exhaustive closure of the operative wound must be carried out, in order to avoid dead spaces that are susceptible to developing a seroma. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about the Seroma in Dogs, Its Symptoms and Treatment.

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  1. What is a seroma?
  2. Causes of seroma in dogs
  3. Symptoms of seroma in dogs
  4. Diagnosis of seroma in dogs
  5. Canine seroma treatment
  6. Prevention of seroma in dogs

What is a seroma?

A seroma is defined as the fluid build-up, specifically blood serum, outside the blood vessels, being accumulated under the skin, in the subdermal area. It differs from hematoma in that the seroma lacks red blood cells.

Canine seromas can also appear in other locations, What:

  • Shoulders.
  • Ears.
  • Neck.
  • Head.
  • Brain.

Canine seroma is soft lump and generally not painful that occurs in the empty spaces under the skin, between the fatty layer located between the skin and the dog's muscles, or as a result of a blow or incision. It is the result of the inflammatory process and the defensive reactions of the canine organism.

However, do not confuse a seroma with an abscess. In order to differentiate them, in this other article we will talk about Abscesses in dogs - Causes and treatment.

Causes of seroma in dogs

Seromas occur mainly after surgery, as a form of surgical complication, especially in surgeries with incision in the ventral midline of the abdomen. The incidence of seroma appearance in ventral midline surgery is around 10%, that is, 1 in 10 dogs they will present it.

This complication has more risk of occurring if during the surgical procedure the surgeon has done the following:

  • Excessive dissection of the dog's skin and subcutaneous tissue.
  • Not very delicate or traumatic handling of tissues.
  • Poor closure with dead spaces.

Other possible causes of seromas in dogs are alterations in blood clotting, punctures or trauma.

Symptoms of seroma in dogs

Seromas in dogs cause a swelling under the skin filled with liquid. If you have had surgery, the seroma will be found around the incision and closure site of the surgical wound. The most common is that they occur subdermally, but there is a chance that they sometimes occur between the muscle layers.

Generally the dog can present the following clinical signs associated with seroma:

  • Swelling of the area that may be accompanied by pain.
  • Reddish skin.
  • Increased temperature around the surgical wound.
  • Clear fluid leakage in the scar area.
  • Infection.

Depending on the location of the non-surgical seromas, the dog will show neurological signs, including seizures and coma in cases where they develop in the brain or head. If it is a cervical seroma, it can bother and hinder the mobility of the neck, and if it occurs in the shoulders, it can hurt when walking.

Diagnosis of seroma in dogs

The appearance of a lump or swelling of the skin near the surgical wound within a few days of surgery is a reason to suspect a seroma. However, it must be differentiated from hematomas and hernias due to dehiscence of the suture, especially in cases of abdominal surgery..

This can differentiate ultrasound, to find out if there are organs in the lump or if it is blood fluid. The liquid extraction with a needle also differentiates bruises from seromas.

In the case of cranial seroma, advanced imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography should be used..

Canine seroma treatment

In most dogs, the seroma will be reabsorbed through the skin around 10-20 days. In other cases, what can be done is the following:

  • Extraction: if, due to size or gravity, said liquid cannot be completely reabsorbed, which will make it necessary to extract it by collecting the liquid with a needle.
  • Sewer system: In the most serious cases, it may be necessary to temporarily place a drain in the area so that the blood serum does not continue to accumulate in the area. A drain is a tube that connects the outside with the seroma, going through the skin, to allow exudation to escape to the outside. Drainage can be passive with application of a compression bandage or closed suction drainage in the worst cases. In the latter case, the drain should not be removed until the extracted fluid is not more than 0.2 ml / kg per hour..
  • Corticosteroids or surgery: If the moderate seroma is not treated, encapsulation of the same can occur. When said seroma hardens, which will leave an unaesthetic scar. In these cases, corticosteroids and even surgery would be needed.
  • Antibiotics: It can also happen that the seroma becomes infected, causing an abscess in the scar with pus draining. In these cases, an antibiotic should be used.
  • Analgesics: if the dog is in pain or a lot of discomfort, analgesics or anti-inflammatories would be administered.

Prevention of seroma in dogs

To prevent the formation of seromas, care must be taken at the time of surgery and in the postoperative period:

  • In surgery: trauma to the tissues must be minimized, as well as dissecting the essentials and making an effective closure without dead spaces The latter will be achieved by suturing the subcutaneous tissue to the underlying fascia to obliterate the space. The most effective suture pattern appears to be the continuous quilting suture (quilting pattern) in which after about three stitches one is anchored to the fascia.
  • In the postoperative: dressings or compressive materials should be put on, as well as keeping the dog in a quiet place, in moderate rest and with an Elizabethan collar to the dog to avoid licking the area.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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