Cartilage is a semi-rigid and flexible avascular connective tissue, which is found at the various parts within the body. The type of this tissue is very hard as this is composed of pliable structure. This pliable structure is primarily composed of water contents. There are various areas in the human body where cartilage is found. These areas are the nose, joints, airway, the ear and intervertebral discs of the spine.
There are mainly three types of cartilage that are found in the human body. The types of cartilage although have more or less similar components; however, they differ drastically in terms of quality. Moreover, each one of the types of cartilage has a separate and particular location. The types of cartilage are Hyaline Cartilage, Fibro Cartilage and Elastic Cartilage.
Hyaline Cartilage is the most common form of cartilage. It originated from the Greek word ‘Hyalos', which means or describes the appearance of various types of connective tissue. These tissues include translucent, shiny and blueish-white. Hyaline cartilage is usually less thick. It is usually only 2-4 mm thick. It is important as well that all cartilage is less thick. Indeed, all cartilage must be thin because there is no vascularization in this particular type of cartilage. It is found at the articular surface of the bones. Hyaline cartilage forms or develops the anterior portion of the ribs. Hyaline cartilage supports or acts as the respiratory passages. Respiratory passages are ring-like structures that are found in trachea. The fiber provides shapes to many parts of the body as in the nose. Moreover, in this kind of cartilage, nutrients and oxygen must be obtained in an effective manner. The required content of nutrients and oxygen is obtained through diffusion. This type of cartilage is in the embryonic form. The cartilage exists in the ribs, nose, joints, trachea and larynx. Hyaline cartilage collagen fibers are primarily known as type II, invisible and extremely thin to the microscope. It is due to the similar refractory properties as found in the matrix itself.
Fibrocartilage exists in areas where tendons and ligaments meet bone. These areas are pubic symphysis, menisci, the annulus fibrosus and the sternoclavicular joint. Fibrocartilage is a pliable connective tissue, which is also very strong in nature. This type of fiber is reinforced with the collagen fiber bundles. They run parallel to each other. It is due to this fact they allow a low level of stretch. Fibrocartilage looks white in appearance due to the abundance of collagen fibers. The fiber lacks a perichondrium. The fiber is composed of type I and type II collagen fibers. It acts to absorb the shocks, which commonly arise between the vertebrae in the spine. It helps in attaining sturdiness without impeding the movement. The white fibrocartilage despite finding a firm and a close joint between bones still allows for an acceptable and a reasonable degree of movement.
Elastic cartilage primarily exists in the external ear, the epiglottis and the Eustachian tube. These various types of anatomy are always required to spring back into the original shape. The role of this type of fiber is purely structural. The cartilage offers flexibility and resilience to the human body due to a mixture of type II collagen fibers and elastic fibers. The fiber is yellow in color. It maintains shape in the ear. It helps to make the ear flexible. It also supports and strengthens the ear.
Cartilage has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is more than just structural existence. One of its functions can be observed in the embryo. In the embryo, cartilage provides support to and is like a precursor to the bone. Moreover, embryonic cartilage either remains just in the form of cartilage or provides a substructure for the endochondral ossification. This means it also has a function as a template, which supports rapid growth and development of the musculoskeletal system.
Cartilage also acts like a supple tissue that allows for facial movement in the external ear. In addition, it also provides a lightweight supportive structure to it. It acts as the tip and septum for the nose. It acts as a shock absorber in many other regions. It cushions areas where there is a junction between bones. It prevents from damage and abrasion. It is to be noted that any form of joints will lack flexibility in case there is no cartilage or has an ineffective existence. Cartilage in some other areas helps to perform dual health functions. It is in the airways where cartilage rings around the trachea and helps to prevent damage and collapse. Moreover, at the end of the ribs cartilage allows the ribcage to swing between outwards and upwards directions during inspiration. Cartilage also helps in bone repair in the case wherein the embryo it provides a kind of template for ossification. This is helpful in case of the broken sections of bone.
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