Difference Between Spongy and Compact Bones

Bone is the main skeletal structure that supports muscles and shapes the body. There are two main structural types of bone: cancellous and compact bone.

They form long bones in the body. Long bones are large, rigid bones that provide strength, structure and mobility. The difference between spongy and compact bones is given in the bottom column of the table.

Difference Between Spongy and Compact Bones

The outer layer of the long bones consists of connective tissue, and between the long bones is spongy bone. The main difference between spongy bone and compact bone is their structure and function.


The inner layers of bone, also called null or trabecular bone, form a spongy bone structure. These are also found in osteoblasts and cartilage, but are low in calcium and shaped like trabeculae. The name “sponge bone” comes from the many lamellar bones in these bones, which gives them a porous structure.

The outer cortical layers of all skeletal elements are heavy, hard and smooth. This layer of bone tissue is called compact bone. An example of a connective bone would be a cortical bone, which is the most important of all long bones, such as arms and legs. They are hard and yellow-boned. These cylindrical bones account for 80% of the weight of the skeletal system.

Difference Between Spongy and Compact Bones

Spongy Bones Compact Bones
Spongy Bones are also called cancellous bones Compact bones are also called cortical bones
They are light, spongy and soft in nature They are heavy, tough and compact in nature
They are made up of trabeculae They are made up of osteons
They fill the inner layer of most bones They fill the outer layer of most bones
It forms the ends or epiphyses of long bones It forms the shaft or diaphysis of long bones


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