Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 15 Apr 2024

The navicular bone is found in the midfoot and is one of the tarsal bones. Its structure resembles that of a boat. It is the last bone of the foot to ossify fully 1.

  • location: lies within the medial aspect of the midfoot

  • relations: the talus bone, cuboid bone and the three cuneiform bones 

  • arterial supply: branches of the dorsalis pedis, posterior tibial and medial plantar arteries 4

The navicular bone articulates proximally with the head of the talus bone, laterally with the cuboid bone and also distally to the lateral, intermediate and medial cuneiform bones 2.

It gives attachments to the superomedial and inferior calcaneonavicular ligament which together form the spring ligament within the foot 2

The tibialis posterior tendon inserts into the medial side of the navicular bone 2.

The dorsal cuneonavicular ligament and plantar cuneonavicular ligament are two ligaments that join each cuneiform bone to the navicular. The medial cuneiform bone also is joined to the navicular by the medial cuneonavicular ligament 3

A branch of dorsalis pedis artery gives off three to five smaller branches which supply the navicular from the medial side. On the lateral aspect of the bone, small branches arise from the posterior tibial artery. Branches of the medial plantar artery also supply the plantar surface of the bone 4. In the central navicular there is a region of watershed blood supply which predisposes the bone to stress fractures.

An accessory ossicle can be present on the medial aspect of the navicular known as an accessory navicular.

Abnormalities of the ossification of the navicular are common. The navicular is the last bone in the foot to ossify. The navicular anlage ossifies in girls between 18-24 months, and in boys between 30-36 months 4.

Historically, the term navicular was also confusingly used to refer to the scaphoid bone in the hand. This is not that surprising as navicular and scaphoid both mean boat-shaped, the former derived from Latin and the latter from Greek. Hence the classical anatomist would talk of the 'os naviculare pedis' or 'os naviculare manus' for the navicular bones of the foot and hand respectively.

To avoid confusion going forwards, it was decided by anatomists in 1955 to use navicular solely for the foot and scaphoid for the hand, as detailed in the Parisiensia Nomina Anatomica, one of the forerunners of the Terminologia Anatomica. Therefore 'os naviculare pedis' was shortened to simply 'os naviculare' 5.

More rarely, has been the use of the word scaphoid to refer to the navicular, usually as part of the term "tarsal scaphoid", more commonly in non-English articles 6.

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