III. Syndesmology - Introduction
THE BONES of the skeleton are joined to one another at different parts of their surfaces, and such connections are termed Joints or Articulations. Where the joints are immovable, as in the articulations between practically all the bones of the skull, the adjacent margins of the bones are almost in contact, being separated merely by a thin layer of fibrous membrane, named the sutural ligament. In certain regions at the base of the skull this fibrous membrane is replaced by a layer of cartilage. Where slight movement combined with great strength is required, the osseous surfaces are united by tough and elastic fibrocartilages, as in the joints between the vertebral bodies, and in the interpubic articulation. In the freely movable joints the surfaces are completely separated; the bones forming the articulation are expanded for greater convenience of mutual connection, covered by cartilage and enveloped by capsules of fibrous tissue. The cells lining the interior of the fibrous capsule form an imperfect membrane—the synovial membrane—which secretes a lubricating fluid. The joints are strengthened by strong fibrous bands called ligaments, which extend between the bones forming the joint.
Bone.—Bone constitutes the fundamental element of all the joints. In the long bones, the extremities are the parts which form the articulations; they are generally somewhat enlarged; and consist of spongy cancellous tissue with a thin coating of compact substance. In the flat bones, the articulations usually take place at the edges; and in the short bones at various parts of their surfaces. The layer of compact bone which forms the joint surface, and to which the articular cartilage is attached, is called the articular lamella. It differs from ordinary bone tissue in that it contains no Haversian canals, and its lacunæ are larger and have no canaliculi. The vessels of the cancellous tissue, as they approach the articular lamella, turn back in loops, and do not perforate it; this layer is consequently denser and firmer than ordinary bone, and is evidently designed to form an unyielding support for the articular cartilage.
Cartilage.—Cartilage is a non-vascular structure which is found in various parts of the body—in adult life chiefly in the joints, in the parietes of the thorax, and in various tubes, such as the trachea and bronchi, nose, and ears, which require to be kept permanently open. In the fetus, at an early period, the greater part of the skeleton is cartilaginous; as this cartilage is afterward replaced by bone, it is called temporary, in contradistinction to that which remains unossified during the whole of life, and is called permanent.
Cartilage is divided, according to its minute structure, into hyaline cartilage, white fibrocartilage, and yellow or elastic fibrocartilage.
Hyaline Cartilage.—Hyaline cartilage consists of a gristly mass of a firm consistence, but of considerable elasticity and pearly bluish color. Except where it coats the articular ends of bones, it is covered externally by a fibrous membrane, the perichondrium, from the vessels of which it imbibes its nutritive fluids, being itself destitute of bloodvessels. It contains no nerves. Its intimate structure is very simple. If a thin slice be examined under the microscope, it will be found to consist of cells of a rounded or bluntly angular form, lying in groups of two or more in a granular or almost homogeneous matrix (Fig. 292). The cells, when arranged in groups of two or more, have generally straight outlines where they are in contact with each other, and in the rest of their circumference are rounded. They consist of clear translucent protoplasm in which fine interlacing filaments and minute granules are sometimes present; imbedded in this are one or two round nuclei, having the usual intranuclear network. The cells are contained in cavities in the matrix, called cartilage lacunæ; around these the matrix is arranged in concentric lines, as if it had been formed in sucessive portions around the cartilage cells. This constitutes the so-called capsule of the space. Each lacuna is generally occupied by a single cell, but during the division of the cells it may contain two, four, or eight cells.
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