Tubercle (anatomy)

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In anatomy, a tubercle is a round nodule, small eminence, or warty outgrowth found on bones, skin or within the lungs in tuberculosis.


Within the human body there are numerous sites where tubercles develop. On bones they are generally the sites of muscle insertions. Within the lungs and on the genitals, tubercles are sites of disease.

In the mouth

Tubercles are usually found behind the last molar in the upper jaw, covered by the gum. Surgery can be done to make tubercles less prominent. [1]

On the arms

The humerus of the upper arm has two tubercles, the greater tubercle and the lesser tubercle. These are situated at the proximal end of the bone, that is the end that connects with the scapula. The greater/lesser tubercule are located from the top of the acromion laterally and down.

On ribs

See tubercle (rib)

In the lungs

Tubercles in the lungs develop as a result of infection by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. Granulomas form in the infected tissue and undergo necrosis in the centre. Tubercles are also known as tuberculous nodules.

On the genitals

The genital tubercle as a small bump that eventually develops into a penis on a male human fetus and into a clitoris if the fetus is female.

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.

  1. "What is Tuberosity Reduction?", Colgate World of Care, [1]