What is the difference between dense cortical bone and spongy trabecular or cancellous bone?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019
  • Author: Monique Bethel, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Dense cortical bone and spongy trabecular or cancellous bone differ in their architecture but are similar in molecular composition. Both types of bone have an extracellular matrix with mineralized and nonmineralized components. The composition and architecture of the extracellular matrix is what imparts mechanical properties to bone. Bone strength is determined by collagenous proteins (tensile strength) and mineralized osteoid (compressive strength). [17] The greater the concentration of calcium, the greater the compressive strength. In adults, approximately 25% of trabecular bone is resorbed and replaced each year, compared with only 3% of cortical bone.


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