Epiphysis refers to the rounded end of a long bone, which forms a joint with another bone. The epiphysis is composed of articular cartilage, which allows for smooth movement and cushioning within the joint, as well as cancellous bone, which provides structural support.
In addition to its role in joint formation, the epiphysis also serves as a site of bone growth in children and adolescents. The growth plate, or epiphyseal plate, is a layer of cartilage located at the epiphysis that produces new bone tissue as the body grows. As individuals reach adulthood, the growth plates typically fuse with the rest of the bone, effectively ending the process of bone growth.
The term “epiphysis” can also refer to the pineal gland, which is a small endocrine gland located in the brain. The pineal gland is sometimes called the “epiphysis cerebri” or “pineal body” due to its proximity to the brain’s cerebral hemispheres. The gland is involved in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles and the production of the hormone melatonin.