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The fibula is a slender, splint-like bone slightly expanded at both ends. It plays no role in the weight bearing function of the lower limb, but serves as a significant site of muscle attachment. It is not easily palpable except at its extremities, the shaft being totally surrounded with muscle. Its shaft has variable sharp ridges that serve to attach interosseous membranes and intermuscular septa. The ridges create a triangular shape in cross-section.
Fibula arises from the Latin word figo meaning to fasten. It came to mean a buckle, brooch, or clasp. The pin-like fibula, especially evident in its shortened state in some animals, appeared as a clasp on a brooch, the brooch being the tibia. Roman surgeons used small pins termed fibulae to suture wounds in a process called infibulation.
The fibula articulates with two bones: the tibia and talus. It has a proximal articular facet covered with articular cartilage that articulates with the lateral condyle of the tibia. At its distal end it forms a cartilage covered articular facet for the talus. The bone also has a rough surface at its distal end, just above the smooth articular facet for the talus, for the interosseous ligament from the tibia.
The fibula ossifies from three centers. The first center appears in the shaft during the eighth week of embryonic life. This center progresses toward the extremities and at birth the shaft has formed. The second center forms in the distal epiphysis sometime in the first or second year. This center slowly ossifies and fuses with the shaft between the fifteenth and twentieth year. The proximal epiphysis is the last center to ossify. It begins ossification between the third and fourth year. This center fuses with the shaft anywhere between the seventeenth and twenty-fifth years.