Histology 2016-2017 Department of Anatomy &Histology

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Haversian System or Osteon (Fig. 6.3; Boxes 6.1 and 6.2)

_ Haversian systems are found between the outer and inner circumferential systems of compact bone.

_ They are long cylindrical, often branching principal structural units of compact bone.

_ They lie parallel to the long axis of the shaft.

_ Each system consists of a central canal, Haversian canal, surrounded by 4–20 concentric lamellae of bony matrix.

_ The Haversian canal is lined by endosteum whose cells have osteogenic potential (osteoprogenitor cells).

_ The canal contains blood vessels, nerves, lymphatics and loose connective tissue.

_ The Haversian canals communicate with each other, with the periosteum and with the internal medullary cavity through transverse/oblique channels called Volkmann’s canals. These canals are not surrounded by concentric bony lamellae. Instead they penetrate through the lamellae of Haversian system (Fig. ).

_ Each Haversian system is formed by successive deposition of bony lamellae around the neurovascular structures in the canal from the periphery inwards. So the diameter of Haversian canal is highly variable. The younger system has a larger canal, whereas the older one has a smaller canal and the most recently formed lamella is closest to the canal.

_ The lamella contains collagen fi bres which run in a spiral manner parallel to each other. However, they run at right angle to those lamellae on either side of it. This arrangement of fi bres gives maximum rigidity and strength.

_ Osteocytes are seen between lamellae in elliptical lacunae .

_ Many tiny canals called canaliculi radiate from the lacunae and anastomose freely with those of other lacunae and Haversian canal. These canaliculi contain fi lopodial processes of osteocytes and come into contact with the fi lopodial processes of neighbouring osteocytes. Thus, a system of complex communicating canaliculi is formed throughout the bony lamellae

with communication with the vascular connective tissue of the Haversian canal, medullary cavity and periosteum. This arrangement helps to keep even the far off osteocytes alive.

Compact Bone – C.S.

(Ground Section).

Presence of

(i) Haversian systems with Haversian

canals and concentric lamellae of

bone matrix;

(ii) interstitial lamellae;

(iii) lacunae and radiating canaliculi;

(iv) Volkmann’s canal.

Compact Bone – C.S.

(Decalcifi ed Section).

Presence of

(i) Haversian systems with Haversian

canals and concentric lamellae of

bone matrix;

(ii) interstitial lamellae;

(iii) osteocytes between lamellae of


Interstitial System

_ Found occupying triangular intervals between Haversian systems.

_ Formed of irregularly shaped groups of parallel lamellae.

_ They are surviving remnants (fragments) of earlier Haversian systems which were destroyed during growth and remodeling of bone.


_ Spongy bone is made of slender bony trabeculae that branch and anastomose with one another enclosing irregular marrow spaces between them which contain bone marrow.

_ These trabeculae exhibit parallel lamellae of bony matrix and osteocytes in lacunae in between.

_ The trabeculae are covered externally by vascular endosteum containing osteoprogenitor cells, osteoblasts and osteoclasts .
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