noun, plural: trabeculae
A small supporting structure in the form of a beam, strut or rod.
(1) A small mineralized spicule that forms a network in spongy bone.
(2) A fibrous strand of connective tissue that supports it in place.
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 often composed of fibrous tissue, mainly of collagen. They may also be composed of other materials, such as bone or muscle. They may form in various organ, such as the heart, spleen, bone and penis.
Word origin: from Latin trabēcula, diminutive of trabs, trab-, beam.
Related forms: trabeculation (noun), trabecular (adjective), trabeculate (adjective).
See also: trabecular bone, trabecular reticulum.