- Anatomically, any one of the bones in the fingers or toes. (The plural of phalanx is phalanges.) There are 3 phalanges (the proximal, middle, and proximal phalanx) in most of the fingers and toes. However, the thumb and large toe have only two phalanges which accounts for their being shorter. A "phalanx" in ancient Greece was a military formation composed of heavily armed troops in close deep ranks. The soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder, several rows deep, often with their shields joined. A phalanx was a formidable group that was difficult to penetrate. The bones in the fingers and toes were first called "phalanges" by the Greek philosopher-scientist Aristotle (384-322 BC) because they are arranged in ranks suggesting the military formation.
* * *1. [NA] One of the long bones of the digits, 14 in number for each hand or foot, two for the thumb or great toe, and three each for the other four digits; designated as proximal, middle, and distal, beginning from the metacarpus. 2. One of a number of cuticular plates, arranged in several rows, on the surface of the spiral organ (of Corti), which are the heads of the outer row of pillar cells and of phalangeal cells; between them are the free ends of the hair cells. [L. fr. G. p. (-ang-), line of soldiers, bone between two joints of the fingers and toes]- distal p. of foot [TA] small, relatively flat bone of the toes underlying the nail bed, each of which bears a tuberosity on its distal plantar aspect from which connective tissue strands (skin ligaments) radiate through the pulp; the bases of the phalanges of the lateral four toes articulate proximally with the heads of middle phalanges; whereas that of the great toe articulates with a proximal p.. SYN: p. distalis pedis [TA].- distal p. of hand [TA] small, spade-shaped bone in the ends of the fingers underlying the nail bed, each of which bears a tuberosity on its distal palmar aspect from which connective tissue strands (skin ligaments) radiate through the pulp; the bases of the phalanges of the medial four fingers articulate proximally with the heads of middle phalanges; that of the thumb articulates with a proximal p.. SYN: p. distalis manus [TA].- middle phalanges of foot and hand [TA] the small, long bone in the middle of the lateral four toes and medial four fingers, lying between and articulating with a distal and a proximal p.. SYN: p. media pedis et manus [TA].- proximal p. of foot [TA] the relatively larger bone of the toes that articulates proximally with the head of a metatarsal; those of the lateral four toes articulate distally with a middle p.; that of the great toe articulates distally with a distal p.. SYN: p. proximalis pedis [TA].- proximal p. of hand [TA] the relatively larger bone of the fingers that articulates proximally with the head of a metacarpal; those of the medial four fingers articulate distally with a middle p.; that of the thumb articulates distally with a distal p.. SYN: p. proximalis manus [TA].- tufted p. one of the terminal phalanges of the fingers in acromegaly; it has an expanded extremity resembling a sheaf of wheat.- ungual p. the distal p. of each of the digits; so called because of the flattened tuberosity at its termination that supports the nail.
* * *pha·lanx 'fā-.laŋ(k)s, Brit usu 'fal-.aŋ(k)s n, pl pha·lan·ges fə-'lan-(.)jēz, fā-, 'fā-., Brit usu fal-'an- any of the digital bones of the hand or foot distal to the metacarpus or metatarsus of a vertebrate that in humans are three to each finger and toe with the exception of the thumb and big toe which have only two each
* * *n.
* * *pha·lanx (faґlanks) pl. phalanґges [L., from Gr. â€œa line or array of soldiersâ€] 1. [TA] any of the bones of the fingers or toes; see ossa digitorum manus and ossa digitorum pedis, under os. 2. any one of a set of plates (made up of supporting cells, q.v.) which are disposed in rows and make up the reticular membrane of the organ of Corti.
Phalanges of the (A), hand (palmar view) and (B), foot (superior view).
Medical dictionary. 2011.