The general framework of the body is built up mainly of a series of bones, supplemented, however, in certain regions by pieces of cartilage; the bony part of the framework constitutes the skeleton.
In the skeleton of the adult there are 206 distinct bones. The patellæ are included in this enumeration, but the smaller sesamoid bones are not reckoned.
Bones are divisible into four classes: Long, Short, Flat, and Irregular.
Long Bones.—The long bones are found in the limbs, and each consists of a body or shaft and two extremities. The body, or diaphysis is cylindrical, with a central cavity termed themedullary canal; the wall consists of dense, compact tissue of considerable thickness in the middle part of the body, but becoming thinner toward the extremities; within the medullary canal is some cancellous tissue, scanty in the middle of the body but greater in amount toward the ends. The extremities are generally expanded, for the purposes of articulation and to afford broad surfaces for muscular attachment. They are usually developed from separate centers of ossification termed epiphyses, and consist of cancellous tissue surrounded by thin compact bone. The medullary canal and the spaces in the cancellous tissue are filled with marrow. The long bones are not straight, but curved, the curve generally taking place in two planes, thus affording greater strength to the bone. The bones belonging to this class are: the clavicle, humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia, fibula, metacarpals, metatarsals, and phalanges.
Short Bones.—Where a part of the skeleton is intended for strength and compactness combined with limited movement, it is constructed of a number of short bones, as in thecarpus and tarsus. These consist of cancellous tissue covered by a thin crust of compact substance. The patellæ, together with the other sesamoid bones, are by some regarded as short bones.
Flat Bones.—Where the principal requirement is either extensive protection or the provision of broad surfaces for muscular attachment, the bones are expanded into broad, flat plates, as in the skull and the scapula. These bones are composed of two thin layers of compact tissue enclosing between them a variable quantity of cancellous tissue. In the cranial bones, the layers of compact tissue are familiarly known as the tables of the skull;the outer one is thick and tough; the inner is thin, dense, and brittle, and hence is termed thevitreous table. The intervening cancellous tissue is called the diploë, and this, in certain regions of the skull, becomes absorbed so as to leave spaces filled with air (air-sinuses) between the two tables. The flat bones are: the occipital, parietal, frontal, nasal, lacrimal, vomer, scapula, os coxæ (hip bone), sternum, ribs, and, according to some, the patella.
Irregular Bones.—The irregular bones are such as, from their peculiar form, cannot be grouped under the preceding heads. They consist of cancellous tissue enclosed within a thin layer of compact bone. The irregular bones are: the vertebræ, sacrum, coccyx, temporal, sphenoid, ethmoid, zygomatic, maxilla, mandible, palatine, inferior nasal concha, and hyoid.
Surfaces of Bones.—If the surface of a bone be examined, certain eminences and depressions are seen. These eminences and depressions are of two kinds: articular and non-articular. Well-marked examples of articular eminences are found in the heads of the humerus and femur; and of articular depressions in the glenoid cavity of the scapula, and the acetabulum of the hip bone. Non-articular eminences are designated according to their form. Thus, a broad, rough, uneven elevation is called a tuberosity, protuberance, orprocess, a small, rough prominence, a tubercle; a sharp, slender pointed eminence, aspine; a narrow, rough elevation, running some way along the surface, a ridge, crest, orline. Non-articular depressions are also of variable form, and are described as fossæ, pits, depressions, grooves, furrows, fissures, notches, etc. These non-articular eminences and depressions serve to increase the extent of surface for the attachment of ligaments and muscles, and are usually well-marked in proportion to the muscularity of the subject. A short perforation is called a foramen, a longer passage a canal.