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  • Letter to the Editor
  • Open Access

Comments on Saint’s triad

  • 1Email author and
  • 2
Surgical Case Reports20151:115

  • Received: 12 October 2015
  • Accepted: 28 October 2015
  • Published:


Yamanaka et al. described two case studies involving coexistent cholelithiasis, hiatal hernia, and umbilical hernias, and discussed clinical similarities with the classical features of the Saint’s triad. Cholelithiasis, hiatal hernia, and colonic diverticulosis characterize the classical triad, but some authors have included any type of hernia due to herniosis—a developmental disorder of the extracellular matrix. The main features of this triad, which seem to be underdiagnosed and/or underreported, are discussed. Therefore, the commented manuscript contributed to better understanding the scarcely reported condition.


  • Saint’s triad
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Diverticular disease
  • Hiatal hernia


Classically, the Saint’s triad includes cholelithiasis, hiatal hernia, and diverticulosis of colon [13]. We read the recent manuscript by Yamanaka et al. involving two case studies of overweight women who presented with clinical characteristics of the uncommon Saint’s triad, except for colonic diverticulosis [1]. Interestingly, both patients had umbilical hernias and a craniopharyngioma was diagnosed in one of them. With solid base in literature, the authors of this interesting manuscript commented historical data and classical features of the triad, and discussed the major hypotheses about its physiopathological mechanisms [1]. They also highlighted the previously described relationship of Saint’s triad with any type of hernia [2], phenomenon that probably would justify the not yet consensual use of novel terms like herniosis and Saint's tetralogy [13].

We consider the case studies herein commented very useful to enhancing the available knowledge about this not yet clarified and scarcely described condition, probably underrecognized or underreported.

Worthy of note, other conditions involving gastrointestinal structures, as any primary hernia [1, 2] and non-lithiasic gallbladder disorders may be associated with the occurrence of classical Saint’s triad [3, 4]. Patients with diverticulosis and gallbladder disease are more prone to have hiatus hernia (OR = 3.8, P = 0.0012) or any hernia (OR = 10.7, P < 0.0001); and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arterial hypertension, aortic aneurysm, and diabetes are associated with Saint's triad (including any hernia) [2].

The craniopharyngioma in the 41-year-old woman reported by Yamanaka et al., did not rule out eventual inverse correlation between herniosis and the development of other malignant tumors [3]. Changes in extracellular matrices with an increase in collagen I and fibroblasts have been detected in herniosis, allegedly considered “hostile to the development of malignancy throughout the body” [3]. Therefore, further research utilizing molecular biology tools might be done, with the purpose of clarifying this hypothetical phenomenon [3].

Although with inherent limitations of case reports, the commented article can enhance the suspicion index of primary care workers about the triad, and contributes to the knowledge of its physiopathology.


Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors’ Affiliations

Armed Forces Hospital and Catholic University of Brasília, Estrada do Contorno do Bosque s/n, Cruzeiro Novo, 70658-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil
State Workers Hospital of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil


  1. Yamanaka T, Miyazaki T, Kumakura Y, Honjo H, Hara K, Yokobori T, et al. Umbilical hernia with cholelithiasis and hiatal hernia: a clinical entity similar to Saint’s triad. Surg Case Rep. 2015;1:65.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Hauer-Jensen M, Bursac Z, Read RC. Is herniosis the single etiology of Saint’s triad? Hernia. 2009;13:29–34.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Read RC. The Nyhus-Wantz lectureship: etiology, herniosis, diverticulosis coli, and cancer. Hernia. 2011;15:481–3.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. McAleese P, Kolachalam R, Zoghlin G. Saint’s triad presenting as volvulus of the gallbladder. J Laparoendosc Surg. 1996;6:421–5.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© dos Santos and dos Santos. 2015