What is ossification?

Sometimes known as osteogenesis Ossification is the development of bone within the skeletal system. The term is used to refer to the natural formation of bone, as in the development of the fetus and during the first years of life. At the same time, the term can also be applied to the appearance of irregularities in bone development that lead to health problems in children and adults.

It is not unusual for some people to confuse ossification with the process of calcification. Essentially, calcification involves the formation of calcium crystals and salts within cells and tissues. This means that calcification occurs as a part of the ossification process. However, it does not take into account the entire process and therefore cannot be properly considered synonymous with osteogenesis.

There are two general classes of ossification or formation of bone tissue that are involved in the normal process of bone development. Endochondral ossification, as well as intramembranous bone formation, identifies several aspects of normal bone growth throughout the body, both in terms of the development of cells within the bones and the proper development of the external surface of the skeletal structure. . A third class, known as heterotopic ossification, refers to situations in which some type of atypical or abnormal bone development occurs.

When some type of abnormal bone ossification occurs, it is often necessary to use invasive measures to remove excess tissue. Over the years, several incidents have been reported where the bone development process would become so erratic that patients' lives were threatened. For example, abnormal hip ossification could not only make walking difficult, but could also pose a threat to the organs housed in the pelvic area, if bone formation begins to put excessive pressure on those organs.

There was a time when the process of dealing with excessive ligament and cartilage ossification was extremely limited. Even today, modern medical care is limited in what can be achieved in severe cases. However, thanks to more efficient surgical practices and a better understanding of how tissue of all types develops, it is much more common to successfully treat heterotopic bone formation in people of all ages. Ongoing research to identify what triggers abnormal bone development, as well as what factors might prevent the development of normal bone structure, continues and may yet provide additional strategies to treat these types of health problems.

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