What Is the Purpose of the Cancellous Bone?

Cancellous bone provides osteoprogenitor cells, says Spine-health. These cells help make new bone tissue. Because of this, bone grafts often use cancellous bone to stimulate the growth of new bone.

Cancellous bone taken from the hip bone of a patient and grafted onto another site in the body such as the spine is considered ideal by many physicians, says OrthopaedicsOne. The bone is lined with osteoblasts, which are cells that create bone, and there is no risk of rejection. A blood supply is established quickly, and growth factors and stem cells encourage the bone to grow.

Cancellous bone, also called trabecular or spongy bone, is found in the center of the vertebrae and at the ends of the long bones in the arms and legs, says Spine-health. Cancellous bone is softer, weaker and more flexible than tough cortical bone, one of whose jobs is to support the weight of the body, but has a greater surface area. It is made up of bars and plates, or trabeculae of bone that are next to tiny cavities filled with bone marrow, which produces blood cells. Cancellous bone gets its blood supply from these cavities.

The arrangement of the bars and trabeculae in cancellous bone and its greater surface area make it more effective at ion exchange than cortical bone, says Bone and Spine.