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Cancellous bone
Illu compact spongy bone.jpg
Illustration of a typical long bone showing the location of cancellous bone.
Spongy bone - trabecules.jpg
Light micrograph of cancellous bone showing its bony trabeculae (pink) and marrow tissue (blue).
Latin substantia spongiosa ossium
Gray's subject #18 86

Cancellous bone, synonymous with trabecular bone or spongy bone, is one of the two types of osseous tissue that form bones. Compared to compact bone, which is the other type of osseous tissue, it has a higher surface area but is less dense, softer, weaker, and less stiff. It typically occupies the interior region of bones. Cancellous bone is highly vascular and frequently contains red bone marrow where hematopoiesis, which is the production of blood cells, occurs. The primary anatomical and functional unit of cancellous bone is the trabecula.

Its Latin name is substantia spongiosa or substantia spongiosa ossium.[1] The words cancellous and trabecular refer to the tiny, lattice-shaped spicules that form the tissue.[1]

See also

  • Cortical bone, the other type of osseous tissue, which forms the hard outer layer of bone organs

Cancellous bone has a greater surface area in comparison with cortical bone and as a consequence cancellous bone is ideal for metabolic activity e.g. exchange of calcium ions.

In osteoporosis, cancellous bone is more severely affected than cortical bone.


  1. ^ a b substantia+spongiosa at eMedicine Dictionary
  • Netter, Frank H. (1987), Musculoskeletal system: anatomy, physiology, and metabolic disorders. Summit, New Jersey: Ciba-Geigy Corporation ISBN 0-914168-88-6

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