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A trabecula (plural trabeculae. From Latin for small beam.) is a small, often microscopic, tissue element in the form of a small beam, strut or rod, generally having a mechanical function, and usually but not necessarily composed of dense collagenous tissue.

On histological section, a trabecula can look like a septum, but in three dimensions they are topologically distinct, with trabeculae being roughly rod or pillar-shaped and septa being sheet-like.

Trabeculae are usually composed of dense fibrous tissue, i.e. mainly of collagen, and in most cases provide mechanical strengthening or stiffening to a soft solid organ, such as the spleen.

They can be composed of other materials, such as bone or muscle.

When crossing fluid-filled spaces, trabeculae may have the function of resisting tension (as in the penis) or providing a cell filter (as in the eye.)

Multiple perforations in a septum may reduce it to a collection of trabeculae, as happens to the walls of some of the pulmonary alveoli in emphysema.

Examples of trabeculae


Diminutive form of Latin trabs, which means a beam or bar. In the 19th century, the neologism trabeculum (with an assumed plural of trabecula) became popular, but is less etymologically correct. Trabeculum persists in some countries as a synonym for the trabecular meshwork of the eye, but this can be considered poor usage on the grounds of both etymology and descriptive accuracy.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Trabecula". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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