Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Haematoma - Cutaneous


Cattle are the main species of interest.

Other Names

  • Blood Blister



These are subcutaneous swellings filled with blood, and usually located around bony prominences that may be more prone to inadvertent trauma. Hazardous pathways and rough handling are predisposing factors. The bony prominences of the pelvis are most affected. Cases can be expected to occur during the export process because of the high number of handling and transport events occurring over an extended period.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Soft, painless, fluctuating, fluid-filled swellings developing rapidly over bony prominences are probably haematomas. 

Haematomas must be differentiated from abscesses and tumours which enlarge slowly, and hernias.


Most haematomas are best left alone as usually they will heal spontaneously. Large haematomas may leave residual, sometimes unsightly skin folds. The temptation to insert a needle to determine contents or to lance and drain an intact haematoma should be resisted as the result is often an abscess or unsightly infected mess. Some will become abscesses and will need draining and flushing.


Avoid rough handling and identify and remove projections into pathways.