Microscopic sections of cartilage tissue reveal cells or chondrocytes in small cavities or lacunae surrounded by a hard but flexible matrix of water bound to collagen fibers. Not many have knowledge on this fact but a cartilage, once injured, recovers slowly since it receives its nutrition by diffusion from vessels in the perichondrium. The irony in this scene is that the cartilage is part of a temporary framework in the healing process. The three types of cartilage will be discussed further.
What fibrocartilage brings to the table is tremendous tensile strength yet with flexibility like that of a ballerina. It resists both impact and tensile forces and credit is given to its fibrous tissues for strength and its cartilaginous tissue for flexibility. To perfectly picture this type of cartilage, imagine your intervertebral disc. The composition of fibrocartilage is a mixture of dense fibrous tissue interspersed with cartilage cells and a relatively small amount of intercellular matrix.
From the name itself, this cartilage is elastic. You may say “all cartilages are elastic”, it’s true but why do we need to single out this type of cartilage? The answer lies in your ear. You can hold your ear and feel its flexibility. That’s a type of elastic cartilage, made up hyaline cartilage with elastic fibers and some collagen. Elastic cartilage can also be found in the epiglottis of the larynx. Some definitions of elastic cartilage mention that this type of cartilage is yellowish in color yet when examined under a microscope, it appears black.
Insensitive, avascular and compressible – you may think this is the characteristic of a friend of your but the three words describes a hyaline cartilage. Hyaline cartilage may be associated with the end-covering of a bone or articular cartilage. Because it is porous, the absorption of oxygen and nutrients are enhanced. To compare with the elastic cartilage, you may feel your nose to familiarize with the hyaline cartilage. The main support of much of the lower respiratory tract and the larynx is attributed to the presence of hyaline cartilage.
From the start of the article up to this point, you may have read the word cartilage more than ten times. To add to your knowledge, a cartilage is similar to a bone with regards to support and strength yet it is a specialized hard connective tissue. The bone is unique for its mineralized matrix which is 65% mineral, 35% organic by weight. The skeleton is a bone, a calcium reservoir. It helps the body in many different ways like serving as an anchor for the muscles, ligaments and tendons; it assists in the mechanism of respiration, its cavity in certain bones is a center of blood-forming activity known as hematopoiesis